First it was 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten getting an R-18 rating presumably for Jameson Blake’s naked butt and strongly-implied masturbation scene. At the very least, R-18 is a rating that still gets you public exhibitions in theaters everywhere; Heneral Luna director Jerrold Tarog’s latest movie Bliss—an award-winning outing, might we add—just got slapped with an X rating by that wonderful institution we call the MTRCB.
That’s a damn shame, because Bliss did win big, we weren’t kidding about that part. Lead actress Iza Calzado won the Yakushi Pearl Award at this year’s Osaka Asian Film Festival for her performance as popular but abused local actress Jane Ciego, who suffers an accident after she tries to produce her own film for ~*~artistic integrity~*~. Her husband (played by Ian Veneracion) and predatory caregivers gaslight her while she’s crippled, and it seems the people around her are only using her for her fame and money. It’s wonderfully fucked up for sure, but there are parts of that premise that may or may not be relatable to some celebrities, both here and abroad.
For those who don’t know, an X rating means they can’t show the film commercially, and it’ll still be available for exhibition in special venues like UP’s Cine Adarna theater. It’s usually reserved for movies with ridiculous violence or porno-style sex. The MTRCB happened to give that most dreaded classification in this case for “explicit nudity” by the movie’s lead actress Iza Calzado (a first, if that’s actually true), among other things.
The biggest question surrounding this controversy is what exactly Bliss did to warrant such a rating, and why do other trashier movies get through? The most common example people bring up is the Fifty Shades franchise, which glorifies and romanticizes messed-up abusive relationships. The trailer looks like your typical psychological horror movie, and the synopsis seems to promise us a well-deserved and thorough tackling of our superstar-obsessed society. (We’re so hyped for that, by the way.) Are you telling us that the oldies in the MTRCB got way too #shookt easily, yet again, by the gratuitous visuals? Or did they somehow see themselves in whatever was being attacked by the plot? Or do they not think that Filipinos aren’t capable of their own monstrosities—but Westerners are?
In any case, Tarog and co. are filing a formal appeal with the MTRCB to review their rating, and hope for at least an R-18 or an R-16. Meanwhile, here’s the teaser for Bliss for you to watch; although it’s tough to judge a whole film by a trailer, none of this seems like a rated X movie to us.