The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has apparently come to its heterosexual senses, downgrading Brokeback Mountain from an L rating specifiying a “limited” adult audience to an O, for “morally offensive.” This is, as I understand it, way cooler than an NC17, but still not as awesome as the “condemned” rating that used to be handed out.
Some people take this stuff very seriously. (For context, some other 2005 films rated O by the Conference: Land of the Dead, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Wedding Crashers, and The 40 Year-Old Virgin.)
I know that the USCCB doesn’t have nearly the influence of the old Legion of Decency, and I guess it’s not a bad idea for a religious body to try to give believers guidance related to a film’s moral implications. (Certainly the original decision not to slap the film with the most disapproving rating possible seems like a remarkably sensible decision on the Conference’s part.) What starts to seem condescending to me is the notion that one set of adults should be deciding, based on some presumed wisdom that’s rarely in evidence, what the rest of them should be permitted to read or view. I’m not sure whether it’s still considered a sin within the Church for a Catholic to go see a movie that’s been rated “morally offensive.” But it becomes clear that the shrill peanut-gallery objections to Brokeback‘s original rating are rooted in a desire to control others’ thoughts by discouraging them from accessing artistic works (or, in their words, “homosexual propaganda”) that might challenge their dogma.
Folks, if God gave us brains, you pay Him tribute by keeping them fully engaged, and operating them with confidence in your own moral judgment. And Brokeback Mountain is a stunner.