In a story we’ve been covering here and here The Weinstein Company’s fight to get Bully released with a PG-13 rating has ended, with Harvey Weinstein’s appeal losing by one vote, says the company. In light of the news, he says Bully will be released unrated, defying the MPAA’s R-rating for the film, as its the right thing to do, and it basically secures the Oscar for Best Documentary next year.
While basically everyone understands the reason for the language in the film by Lee Hirsch, the MPAA somehow doesn’t understand that teens hear these words on a regular basis, and their ratings have a lot more impact than just serving as a guide for parents. Now it is up to independent theaters to decide if they’ll show the movie or not, but always remember they are under considerable pressure from the MPAA to only show films they approve, or they can lose lucrative deals with major distributors for not following the MPAA’s mandates.
Never mind the half a million signatures Katy Butler got on her Change.org petition, or the numerous celebrities and members of congress that called for a change in the rating so the film could be shown to the people it was intended for. The MPAA has decided they are the end-all, be-all authorities on what America’s children should watch, coming to represent every form of censorship they claim they are replacing.
Director Lee Hirsch says:
“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R-rating is there because it’s real. It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it’s up to the theaters to let them in.”
The Weinstein Company President of Marketing Stephen Bruno says:
“The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves.”
And this is the bigger issue. Because while it might not ever get the same wide release that Waiting for Superman got, it at least deserves a chance to be seen, not only in theaters, but by other teens under 17 in the future, lest we be doomed to repeat it. An alternative to the MPAA is Common Sense Media, who have rated the film ‘Age 13’ with a comprehensive guide as to exactly why they gave the film that rating. From now on, I will only post the ratings from Common Sense Media as they are unbiased and offer a better idea of how they came to their rating decision.
“The MPAA’s ratings system is inadequate when it comes to looking at a movie’s content through the lens of its larger thematic issues. Common Sense Media provides alternative ratings for parents who are looking for more guidance and context than the MPAA provides.” says the CEO of Common Sense Media. All I have to say is about damn time.
Bully will be released in theaters this Friday, March 30th in New York at the Angelika Film Center and AMC Lincoln Square and in Los Angeles at the Landmark, ArcLight Hollywood, and AMC Century City, with a wider release to follow. Go see the film if you can, and show the MPAA their archaic system is broken.