(I apologize in advance for the harsh language and venom spewed, but this is something I feel strongly about, and refuse to be censored, as I’m not governed by the fascist assholes at the MPAA)
Harvey Weinstein is no stranger to controversy, and he’s had more than his fair share of fights with the MPAA. This time, everyone needs to take notice of what’s going on, as it’s not the typical Weinstein rabble-rousing designed to stir up business. Documentarian Lee Hirsch set out to make a film about bullying, a modern problem that has really come to light the past few years with the teen suicides of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley who felt they had no other escape from their bullies.
Filmmaker Hirsch followed the lives of teens in their families in states such as Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Iowa, and Oklahoma, which aren’t exactly the states you think of when you think of the word ‘tolerance’. Hirsch has said that he set out to make the film in part because he was bullied himself as a child. Produced in partnership with the Sundance Institute, the film examines the relationship of bullies and their victims, what causes bullying, and most importantly, what allows it to permeate society on a consistent basis.
Now, in a move of swift idiocy that could only be accomplished by an organization as crooked (watch This Film Is Not Yet Rated for more info on that) as the MPAA, they have slapped the film with an R-rating, effectively keeping the 10-16 year old age group from seeing the film. As anyone with a brain (or that was a teenager) will tell you, these are the ages where bullying is the worst, and it causes the most damage to young psyches. More importantly, most school districts have an outright ban on R-rated films, effectively banning this film from public high schools in America.
That’s right, the MPAA, the organization that is said to be formed “to protect children” from adult content, has effectively said that the most important issue for these teens is not for their eyes. All of this is because of the language in the film. LANGUAGE. Anyone that’s ever been to high school knows that cursing is an every day fact of life. Even the students that don’t curse are exposed to it, in the classroom, in the yard, at lunch, and after school. However, the MPAA feels that to see the impact of these words, in their proper context (educationally), is too much for these teens to grasp. The same teens that hear it on a daily basis. So they’ve banned these kids from seeing the film, effectively.
Weintstein, the last person in Hollywood to be afraid of anyone, has taken a stand, and appealed the film’s rating last week, bringing along one of the victims from the film, Alex Libby to argue against the R-rating, no matter what language was used. Still, these self-righteous assholes upheld the R-rating, basically spitting in the face of Alex Libby, and every other bullied teen in America, saying that their problems are beyond their grasp. Which is the entire point of the documentary. While some adults might argue they don’t want kids exposed to this type of language, they are only shielding themselves from believing that this type of thing happens on a daily basis. Which is hilarious in concept (terrifying in practice) because that’s the entire point of the film. Hirsch has spoken out, saying the biggest problem he had with bullying as a kid was adults, even his own parents, thought nothing of the problem and said such things as “get over it”. The ones that couldn’t have killed themselves.
So the MPAA is basically advocating teen suicide by insisting that they aren’t mature enough to understand the language they are attacked with on a daily basis. For being a largely political organization, the MPAA is really shooting themselves in the foot on a wide scale, making powerful enemies across the board. They are, in effect, telling America’s youth “Get over it”, like Hirsch’s parents did so many years ago, and endorsing the behavior of bullies nationwide, having become a bully in their own right.
Katy Butler, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has created a Change.org petition in an attempt to get the MPAA to acquiesce its stance on the rating, and so far the petition has garnered nearly 200,000 signatures. How many will it take for anyone to actually do something about this? Seemingly, the fascists at the MPAA don’t care that this film won’t reach its core audience, condoning the behavior (because refusing to speak out is a crime in itself, according to the laws of our country). Right here, right now, I’m calling out every District Attorney (and I’ll be forwarding this article to a few of them) in the United States to press charges of accomplice to verbal and physical abuse against the children bullied in the film by the MPAA. Will it go anywhere? Probably not, but I can’t do the same myself, joining the guilty party and not speaking out.
The MPAA can go to hell, for all I’m concerned. If they are saying that one of the biggest problems in middle class America is not worth of discussion by the people affected by it, they are as guilty as those doing the bullying, because their stated mission is to protect the very children they are keeping from seeing this film. Statistics say 13 million children will be bullied in the US this year alone, without even considering the problem globally. And it is a global problem. Celebrities such as Anderson Cooper, John Cena, and Ellen Degeneres have all taken a strong stance against bullying, going far out of their way to raise awareness on the problem, yet organizations like the MPAA have refused to take the matter seriously with their imminent denial of the problem itself. The biggest problem is the lack of communication on the subject, which they are promoting by preventing teens from seeing it.
Weinstein has stuck to his guns, saying he will fight the rating tooth and nail, and if he can’t get a reversal of the decision by this coming Friday, March 9th, the film could be released ‘unrated’. This is a huge problem, as most chain theaters ban anyone under 17 from seeing unrated films anyway, effectively acting as the enforcement arm of the MPAA. Festivals and critic screenings alike have brought about extremely positive reviews of the film, pointing out the fact that this is a large social problem that needs to be discussed. Glee has done more than a few episodes on the subject, and Ryan Murphy has received critical praise for using the TV medium to speak out. Let’s give films the same permission to speak the truth. If the MPAA gets their way, none of this will happen. Stand up, sign Katy Butler‘s petition and let the MPAA know that you will no longer stand for their brand of bullshit. Call your congressman. Speak up at a PTA meeting. Go see the film this weekend, if you can. America’s youth will thank you, and the suicides of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley will no longer go unnoticed by the public at large, and we can begin to take a stand against bullying.
(trailer via FilmStage)