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Gaspar Noe's 3D Sex Film Re-Rated 18
Karl Smith , August 11th, 2015 08:12

In a move that seems to come without precedent, Love, the most recent film by director-writer and enfant terrible Gaspar Noe, has been re-classified 18 in France after an initial 16 rating and three weeks afters its theatrical release

In a recent interview with Marie Claire the consistently-divisive but ever-on-point Miley Cyrus gave some severe verbal side-eye to Taylor Swift's video for 'Bad Blood', quite rightly ruminating on the perceived harmfulness of her frequent semi-nudity vs the (albeit-hyper-stylised) violence of Swift's visual effort: "I’m a bad role model because I’m running around with my titties out? I’m not sure how titties are worse than guns".

It's a pointed barb in this instance but it's also part of a much wider, more pervasive issue in art and in the media with fraught battlegrounds in the diverse no man's lands of social media — see: Instagram and Facebook's continued efforts to police representation of the female body and subsequent righteous backlash —and arthouse cinema, in the re-packaging of Gaspar Noe's Love.

While it's not unlike Noe, the auteur writer and director of both 2002's Irréversible and 2009's Enter The Void, to court controversy, the film — a 3D “non-pornographic exploration of the beauty of love making” which features unchoreographed, unsimulated sex scenes — was originally handed a 16 rating in France after its premiere at Cannes earlier this year but has since been re-rated 18, apparently without precedent, three weeks after its release.

Weigh this up against, say, the exuberant and ultimately thoughtless violence of other recent films, take something as innocuous-seeming as Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, for example, which has a 12A rating in the UK — meaning not only can you see a lot of stuff get blown up unncessearily and watch a lot of people get shot with reckless abandon (and most likely subsequently die because hey guess what violence has consequences!) — so if you've reached the giddy Everest of maturity that is being 12, in the company of a parent you can soak it all up regardless of your age, like a filthy sponge in a half-drained sink of day-old chicken water.

Beyond that, of course, there's the murky issue of censorship and self-fulfilling prophecy: if you're heavy-handed with directors work then, eventually, as Noe explains to Libération, “There is a risk that the filmmakers or writers censor themselves” and we end up with high-veneer, watered-down cinema across the board.

So it goes: you can search "#guns" on Instagram and find, amidst the odd bicep or two, a veritable doomsday armoury of firearms on display, but try posting a female nipple and you're liable to get your account deleted or at least suspended. And you can make a film about shooting people with all the forethought of a surprise bowel movement and a two-year-old can watch it with their mum — but try and explore the various intricacies of adult sexual relationships with a sense of reality and philosophy in a controlled environment and no-one under 18 is going to see it in a country where the age of consent is 15.

Truly, I’m not sure how titties are worse than guns.

Follow @karlthomassmith on Twitter.

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