Popeater‘s Gary Susman, following the lead of a 12.2 L.A. Times piece by Stephen Zeitchick (among others), is asking why an oral sex scene in Derek Cianfrance‘s Blue Valentine resulted in an NC-17 rating while a lesbian/bisexual oral sex scene in Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan resulted in only an R rating. I think we all know why.

Cianfrance’s film is essentially being punished for being more honest and realistic in its depictions of sexuality than Aronofsky’s. Black Swan‘s oral-sex scene has been primarily interpreted as a nice hot fantasy that straight males in particular can watch without discomfort whereas Valentine‘s, driven by the emotional dynamics of a failing marriage, is a bit more unsettling and/or uncomfrtable.

Regardless of the MPAA’s historical record, straight-laced American milquetoast types (such as those on the MPAA’s ratings board) have always felt far less threatened by hot girl-on-girl action than heterosexual couplings. As Susman writes, “The ratings board may have muddled standards regarding female sexual pleasure, profanity and violence, but at least it’s no longer quite so fearful of lesbianism. So long as the lesbians are played by household-name actresses in MPAA-member films, and they’re not totally naked, and they’re not necessarily enjoying themselves, and they might just be fantasizing, that is.”