Coming out teen movie 'Love, Simon' rated R21. 'The Shape of Water' about inter-species love is M18.

Film classification is baffling.

Sulaiman Daud | Belmont Lay | March 30, 2018, 02:38 AM

Love, Simon, a 110-minute movie to be released in Singapore on May 3, 2018, has been rated R21 here.

It is a movie set in America about a 17-year-old teenager coming out of the closet.

This means the target audience here will not be able to watch the movie due to the age restriction.

Online appeal

In response to the R21 rating, an online petition has been started in Singapore to appeal to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to reclassify the film to relax the age restriction.

The petition, started in early March 2018, has received more than 9,000 signatures as of March 30.

It cites the positive message of the movie as a source of inspiration for youths here.

Why R21?

According to the IMDA Films Classification Database, Love, Simon has been rated R21 with an advisory of “Homosexual Theme”.

According to its classification information (spoiler warning):

The theme of homosexuality, therefore, forms the main narrative of the film...

According to the R21 Classification Guidelines “stronger and more explicit portrayal and exploration of mature themes are allowed”.

The movie has been passed clean with no cuts made to it.

PG rating in US

However, in the United States, where the movie is targeted at teenagers, it has received a PG-13 rating. This means the film is suitable for teenagers 13 years and above, with adult supervision.

As noted in the online petition, other countries' ratings for Love, Simon are lax in comparison. For example, in the Philippines, it is also 13 years old. In South Korea, it is 15 years old.


M18 for inter-species love

Interestingly, The Shape of Water, which is the Oscar Best Picture in 2018, was given an M18 rating in Singapore, with an advisory of "Sexual Scene and Nudity".

This is despite the premise (spoiler warning) of the movie being about inter-species love, as an aquatic creature and a human woman copulate, and it features more graphic violent and sexual content.

This is in comparison to Love, Simon, which contains some verbal sexual references without any explicit scenes.

Prohibitive classification

The issue of film classification was previously raised in Singapore when The Wolf of Wall Street hit cinemas in January 2014.

Parts of Martin Scorsese’s movie was censored for its release here.

Up to five minutes of the movie was snipped before being stamped with a R21 rating.

This prompted calls for a boycott of the movie.