Blue is the Warmest Beep

Blue is the Warmest Beep

Thoughts on the controversies following the release of Cannes d’Or award winning film ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’, and censorship today

by Andrea Jackson

October 8, 2013

Blue is the Warmest Color IFC Images

photo via IFC images

Life Elsewhere Radio aired the Censorship Edition in February of this year, speaking with guests Sir-Mix-a-Lot, Robert Newman, and others about observations, criticisms and predictions concerning censorship in the media.  By the end of the show, it wasn’t hard to determine that the gap between artists and the MPAA has slowly been narrowing, but still has a long way to go.

The topic of censorship couldn’t be more relevant today, especially with the approaching winter film release season. Among the highly anticipated controversial films is director Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color, an adaptation of Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, Blue Angel. Thousands of people are predicted to fill the theaters on October 25 to investigate the hype behind the three hour long, English subtitled French film’s NC-17 rating from the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).

Original release of the film was scheduled for this summer, but was pushed back as a result of backlash, and skepticism from the MPAA resulting from a rumored six-minute graphic lesbian sex scene between leading actresses Lea Seydoux, 29, and Adele Exarchopoulos, 19.  But alas, the film’s release day is set, and there is already talk about Oscar nominations for the cast a crew.

Seydoux and Exarchopoulos have commented on the graphic nature of the love making scenes throughout Blue is the Warmest Color, creating tension between themselves and director Kechiche. Kechiche’s infamous perfectionist techniques have created a reputation for himself in the filmmaking industry. The star actresses conclude their opinions about  “awkward and repetitive” filming of the sex scenes by including that they had anticipated multiple takes to produce the scenes to perfection, and believe that the end result of the film is “resonant and beautiful”, their ultimate goal fulfilled.

Kechiche fears that at this point, the truthful integrity of the film has been “too sullied”, and is hesitant of the North American release of the film. Kechiche stands by the fact the film was created around the powerful plot and “purely aesthetic point of view”.

This all brings me back to censorships, and the difference between our ideas of art and pornography. Media coverage is leveraging the hype of Blue is the Warmest Color, by creating a stigma of borderline obscene pornographic scenes as a result of its earning a NC-17 rating. Rather than focusing on the captivating love story, masterfully captured by Kechiche’s lens, the media has painted a portrait of the film as raunchy, and inappropriate.

This shouldn’t be the case at all. According to the official MPAA website, the definition of an NC-17 rated film clearly states:

“…it does not mean ‘obscene or pornographic”, and “…” shouldn’t be misconstrued as negative…” and concludes with,”… it can be a result of,’ violence, aberrational behavior, sex, or drug use…”

Blue is the Warmest Color IFC Comic

photo via Google Images

This isn’t going to be the first movie to be released that has stirred up some controversies in this regard. It’s not even the first movie to have infamous lengthy same-sex scenes.  It leads me to believe that people are leery of the extreme emotional impact associated with the movie. Have we become a society that is excruciatingly afraid of sentiment and an open display of vulnerability, passion, lust and desire portrayed thoughtfully and artistically as opposed to humorously and clumsily? Have we grown fearful of portraying a true love story on film because of the emotions it brings to surface in ourselves?

Daniel Radcliff, of the Harry Potter saga, can relate to Seydoux and Exarchopoulos’ professional dilemma. Kill Your Darlings which is set for a December 6 release in the US will reveal Radcliff in a gay sex scene which he comments is not visually graphic but rather “emotionally graphic”.  I am anxious to see how this unfold in response to the controversies circling Blue is the Warmest Color and other emotionally intoxicating films.

The more I see this kind of coverage I find that it is not a question of gay or straight love making scenes that spark questions of artistic integrity vs. pornography, but rather I question our society’s level of comfort with an open emotional expression. Could it be that we fear young children watching films which are emotionally explicit rather than graphically and sexually explicit?

As of today, it is said that Boise, Idaho won’t be screening Blue is the Warmest Color as a result of it’s NC-17 rating. is this ethical?

Link to the story here.

Do you have something to say? Share your opinions and comments by writing in our ongoing discussion of same-sex coverage in the media, censorships and the cultural divide between artists and the general public.


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