‘G.B.F.’ director Darren Stein on how his gay teen comedy was wrongly rated R

Darren Stein GBF
Director Darren Stein says he was surprised that his movie, G.B.F. was slapped with an ‘R’ rating by the MPAA. / Getty

After making his mark with the dark comedy “Jawbreaker,” director Darren Stein returns to high school with “G.B.F.” (short for Gay Best Friend) about a group of popular girls fighting over the first openly gay student at their school. It’s a sweet and witty teen comedy that just happened to be deemed rated R by the MPAA, something that initially baffled Stein.

People tend to say they’re tired of gay films and books about the coming out experience, but you’ve made one that’s actually fun and unique.
I think we sort of live in a post-coming out world, in a way. It’s not as big of an issue as it used to be, and I think one of the charms of the “G.B.F.” screenplay was that it showed these gay kids with these parents and getting the new reactions which are comedic-ly sort of out-of-character for the audience’s expectations of how gay kids coming out experience that. That’s very new information.

It’s remarkable how rapidly things have been changing, especially for gay teens.
Oh yeah, for sure. I feel like there’s so much gay media alone on the Internet that they can access. But for us I think it was more challenging as teenagers because we had to find that code or that language in other places like horror movies, for instance. Or even a lot of gay kids would tell me, “Oh my God, ‘Jawbreaker’ spoke to me. It was my movie.” There’s that scene where Courtney makes her boyfriend suck on the Big Stick, a lot of gay kids kind of saw the code in that.

Let’s talk about the MPAA.
What always appealed to me about the script is that it read like a mainstream teen comedy that happened to have a gay protagonist, and I felt like it could be a PG-13 movie. It never felt like an R-rated movie to me — and I’ve made R-rated movies, I know what they look like. We even went through the script and took out any F-words. So I was pretty surprised when it got an R-rating. But it’s brought a lot of attention to the movie, which I am grateful for.

There has been a silver lining to it in that way.
It’s great. I think really the most provocative thing about the movie is just the notion of a gay hero in a mainstream teen movie context. And I think that could be a hard pill to swallow for the MPAA. It’s sort of normalizing the gay experience in a way that people aren’t used to seeing.

I’ve heard it’s easier for studios to deal with the MPAA than indie films.
Yes, I mean if you have studio financing or the budget, you can appeal the rating, you can get the list of what changes need to be made to re-cut the film. We didn’t have that, we were made independently — and frankly, I wouldn’t want to make any cuts to the film. I was told flat-out by our MPAA consultant that they do indeed rate gay films harsher. I mean, it is what it is. And that’s obviously more of a cultural thing than just a movie thing.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor reveals new tech hub Digital.NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed Digital.NYC on Wednesday, a new online platform aimed at connecting all things tech in New York City. The public-private partnership…

Local

Falling debris hits two men in Times Square

Two men were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning after being hit by falling debris from 110 feet above Times Square. Nancy Greco from the…

Local

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough accused of misusing campaign…

Queens Assemblyman William Scarborough has been indicted on state and federal charges for allegedly withdrawing campaign funds as cash for personal use. Scarborough, a Democrat…

News

U.S. Secret Service director Pierson resigns under fire

U.S. Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned under fire on Wednesday after a series of security lapses came to light.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Oct. 1: 'Criminal Minds,'…

The "Criminal Minds" team adds some supernatural assistance, as the "Ghost Whisperer" herself, Jennifer Love Hewitt, joins the show. She's playing an FBI agent, but you never know when someone…

Music

See the most popular Pandora station in your…

Who knew Bachata music was so popular?

The Word

The Word: Twilight just won't die

You thought our "Twilight" days were behind us, didn't you? Well think again. Series creator Stephenie Meyer (who would rather you not ask about "Twilight"…

Going Out

Which NYC restaurant lost its three-star Michelin rating?

A record 73 restaurants in New York City collected coveted Michelin stars on Tuesday as a mix of trendy spots and fine-dining stalwarts underscored the…

NFL

Rex Ryan fields more questions about Geno Smith,…

The idea Geno Smith will be replaced by backup Michael Vick appears to be all smoke, as the Jets are intent to ride with their second-round draft pick.

NFL

Will Beatty playing like franchise left tackle again…

Left tackle Will Beatty, who is the elder-statesman of Giants’ line, has turned around his season and become a consistent force on Manning’s blindside.

NFL

John Conner back with Jets for second stint

He'll be back. It's "Terminator 2" for the Jets, who brought back John Conner to the team on Tuesday after placing fullback Tommy Bohanon on…

NFL

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry…

Fantasy football: Ben Tate to break out, Larry Donnell will stay solid

Career

Creating a support system for minority women in…

When Kathryn Finney founded digitalundivided — an organization devoted to engaging minority communities with the tech world — she didn’t know quite what to expect.…

Sex

We can learn a lot from animals about…

There’s a lot we can learn about love from the birds and the bees — and the chickens, monkeys and squirrels that we share the…

Style

Saint Laurent

Our review of the Saint Laurent Spring '15 show at Paris Fashion Week.

Style

Céline: Paris Fashion Week Spring 2015

Our review of the Celine Spring '15 show during Paris Fashion Week.