The youth gay film “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten,” Best Picture winner in the most recent Cinema One Originals Film Festival, trended on Twitter recently because it received an R-18 rating from the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
The film stars young actor Khalil Ramos as Felix, a quiet high school achiever whose life turns upside-down when the Synder brothers Magnus and Maxim, played by newcomers Ethan Salvador and Jameson Blake, transfer to his high school in Pampanga. Magnus asks Felix to be his geometry tutor and the two develop a close bond. Felix falls in love with Magnus and vows to protect him from any harm, even if it means going up against Magnus’ own brother Maxim. Set in the 1990s, “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” is a touching ode to first love and friendship, as it is also depicts themes of colonialism, survival, and pain of coming out.
“2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” initially got an R-13 rating when it was shown at the Cinema One Originals Filmfest last November. It was submitted for review this month in time for the commercial release and got an R-16 rating again. When the producers requested for a second review in the hopes of getting an R-13 rating, the MTRCB gave “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” an R-18” despite the absence of nudity or sex scenes.
The R-18 rating elicited protest from netizens. Writer and social media celebrity Irish Dizon tweeted, “At bakit R-18 yung 2 Cool 2 B Forgotten???” Dizon also asked the government agency to justify its decision, saying “You are a gov’t agency & you are accountable to us. Your R-18 rating for 2 Cool 2 B Forgotten must be explained PUBLICLY.
“By giving 2 Cool 2 B Forgotten an R-18, @MTRCBgov, you lower the film’s chances at blockbuster success. More importantly, you deprive younger people (who stand to benefit most from watching alternative films) the chance to see other realities & learn.”
Dizon urged the MTRCB to consider the audience’s views. “Pakinggan niyo yung reaction ng mga tao. WTF talaga yung R-18 na binigay niyo sa 2 Cool 2 Be Forgotten.”
A number of Tweets surmised that the rating was due to its gay theme.
Josh @badingbinata said, “HOW AND WHY IS 2 COOL 2 BE 4GOTTEN R-18 ?????? I SMELL HOMOPHOBIA”
Top Tripper@topfucker1: “Why is 2 cool 2 be 4gotten R-18? Very progressive when it comes to daring and gay films ah. #sarcasm #MaramMocha”
Athena @athenakeana: “SO BAKIT R-18 YUNG 2 COOL 2 BE 4GOTTEN?!?!?! ANO NAMAN KUNG GAY HA husme!!!”
Other netizens were upset over the rating.
Alya Aboughaula@alyahabg: 2 COOL 2 BE 4 GOTTEN IS RATED R-18 IM SO MAD WIXJIWKXKW
If it’s not because of that scene, then the MTRCB must be crazy. There’s nothing else in 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten that deserves the R-18 rating.
2 COOL 2 BE FORGOTTEN is R-18 like wtf? It’s 2017. Movies with themes like this should be introduced to people so that they can have a wider and Deeper Look into the LGBTQ life. I want to watch this movie and im so bummed out by the fact that it’s R-18. GAHHHH
ARMAND SUCKS! @armanddc Mar 13
Nakakainsulto ‘yung R-18 na rating ng 2 COOL 2 BE 4GOTTEN, ugh.
Twitter user Jael Gonzalez described the board’s standard as one that has not kept up with the times.
Jael Gonzalez @gonzalezzdodis Why do we even give a damn about MTRCB ratings? When there really isn’t any specific criteria except their outdated conservative ideals.
Artist Juan Miguel Severo and film critic Philbert Dy questioned “2 Cool’s” R-18 rating because previously shown films that had violent scenes were given milder ratings.
Juan Miguel Severo: #2Cool2BeForgotten got an R-18 from MTRCB. Di ipapalabas sa SM. Because it’s ‘gay’. Pero yung sumasabog na bungo sa Logan okay lang, no?
Phil Dy @philbertdy: John Wick and Logan are rated R-16. Both feature exploding heads. 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten does not.
Professionals from the film industry were concerned about this recent development.
Kip Oebanda (writer and director)
I don’t get why 2 Cool 2 be 4gotten is R-18. There’s nothing explicit there. Why such a hard bar for gay films, medieval Philippines?
Moira Lang (producer)
#2Cool2Be4gotten first got R16, appealed, thinking R13 was a more accurate, fair rating (I agree!), then got slapped w/ R18 by the MTRCB.
Releasing a movie in this country can feel a lot like being in a violent R16-rated hollywood movie. yakap, @petersenvargas #2Cool2Be4gotten
Lang, and filmmaker Gian Abrahan, together with “2 Cool’s” lead star Khalil Ramos and creative consultant, Jade Castro, urged viewers to see the film and be the judge.
Moira Lang: Girls and boys (18 & up) go out and watch ‘2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten’ 2morrow! Show some love for a local flick so well crafted it’s sexy.
A film about friendship and love that’s rated R18. Must be f&%king intense then. Go see #2Cool2Be4Gotten, in cinemas tomorrow.
Gian Abrahan: INTENSE does not even satisfy as an adjective, it BETRAYS. Support @petersenvargas as his first feature is 2Cool 2B Missed! #2Cool2Be4Gotten
Jade Castro: Like i always say, support R-18 movies & the cinemas that show them. #2cool2be4gotten is #R18 #what The problem w/ R18 is that it’s a huge blow on finances & freedom bec of sm ban. board members must act extra responsible before brandishing freedom of people to see it. more than restricting age, it’s restricting access. that’s major. any reason must be weighed against this. as long as sm ban exists & sm dominates territories, R18 is tantamount to censorship. mtrcb members must be aware it’s not mere regulation.
In an open letter dated March 14, “2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten” director Petersen Vargas expressed his sadness that viewers would not be able to see his film because of the rating and limited cinemas. He wrote, “It’s been nothing but disheartening to hear from people who would’ve planned to see our film tom but 1) not showing in their area; 2) R-18 feels like a cheat to have promised a “nationwide” release & yet find out this is as far your small, small film could go. Breaks my heart. You go back to asking yourself why you made a film like #2Cool2Be4gotten. you remember yourself a kid wanting to see something like it…”
Still, Vargas thanked those who are supporting the movie. He said, “To everyone who’s been adding up to the noise, every single one of you counts. we all hear & feel ya. there’s so much love passed around. This only strengthens our will to find the best ways to share #2Cool2Be4gotten. to everyone watching tom, know that you’ve touched my life.”
Full text of Vargas’ letter below.
#2Cool2Be4gotten opens tom for everyone 18 & above. we made the film for everyone, but i guess for now let’s settle w/ love for sexy things. it’s been nothing but disheartening to hear from people who would’ve planned to see our film tom but 1) not showing in their area; 2) R-18 feels like a cheat to have promised a “nationwide” release & yet find out this is as far your small, small film could go. breaks my heart. you go back to asking yourself why you made a film like #2Cool2Be4gotten. you remember yourself a kid wanting to see something like it.
not to vouch on a play on vanity, but it’s every bit of a pipe dream once only dreamt in dreams. and you go for it, and you try to make it.
and you do, finally tell the story of a young boy whose very confusion is brought upon by the same confusions you’ve had as a kid. it’s you.
it’s both you and not just you, but every single boy whose confusions become their life sentence. so you want to make them feel less alone.
put your belief in your small film but realize it’s not enough to get it out there, even if you feel its need. you’re just a boy w/ a dream.
so you hear people decry the supposed injustice. you hear the small boy still inside you crying along. until you cry it out yourself.
you face a group of 3 who tells you your film owns up to its unnecessary obscenity til the end, as if your own truth were inept, lacking.
you write a letter to hopefully persuade them according to your own truth, and the way it might ignite other people’s truths like magic.
face another group of 5 and feel at the very first second that you’re at the losing end. because they have power over you; you, still a boy.
grind you w/ questions & write off your film this way: “psychologically disturbing”; “no social redeeming value” & just like that, you lose.
you lose cause only they have the power, and you, you only have the heart to carry the weight of this burden, of this truth. you walk away.
& now here you are, here’s the story you want to tell, the film you’ve lived your life through to make. it’s here for you to give away.
to everyone who’s been adding up to the noise, every single one of you counts. we all hear & feel ya. there’s so much love passed around.
this only strengthens our will to find the best ways to share #2Cool2Be4gotten. to everyone watching tom, know that you’ve touched my life.”