by Richard Wright
Analysis: Steaminess Rating
Exactly how steamy is this story?
Even though Black Boy is rated PG-13, we assure you that there’s nothing steamy about this text. It is positively frigid up in there. There are only a few things in the whole nearly 400-page book that push it past the G rating. First, Richard engages in some "heavy petting" over the clothes, we don’t know, but for about a minute it looks like we are headed for boom-chika-wow-wow territory. The second thing is Richard frequents some ladies and pays them, indirectly, for their services. Some might call that prostitution, and we’re pretty sure that’s not rated G even though we don’t see a thing.
Oh, and there’s the creepy sexual way that Richard talks about wanting to hear the end of the Bluebeard story: "I hungered for the sharp, frightening, breathtaking, almost painful excitement that the story had given me" (1.2.37). But that’s the only titillating moment in the entire thing.
Well, there is the ceaseless, unrelenting violence. But have you seen kids’ movies these days? There’s more brutality in Saturday morning cartoons than in Black Boy.