Online Petition Asks MPAA To Change “Bully” Rating

    February 28, 2012
    Shaylin Clark
    Comments are off for this post.

When the MPAA gave director Lee Hirsch’s documentary Bully an R rating, Harvey Weinstein was angry. Weinstein is co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, which is distributing the film. Bully is a documentary dealing with, as you might guess from the title, the issue of bullying in American schools. The film is meant to give a realistic picture of the problem. As such it includes a fair amount of violence and the kind of language that teenagers use when grown-ups aren’t around.

It was this language – not the violence – that prompted the MPAA to slap the film with an R rating instead of the PG-13 rating TWC wanted. TWC appealed the decision. Weinstein himself, along with one of the boys featured in the film, Alex Libby, asked the MPAA to change the rating. Since the movie is aimed at teenagers, an R rating will prevent many of the very kids at whom the film is targeted from seeing it. Not only will it prevent many movie theaters from letting kids under 17 in without an adult, it will also prevent TWC from holding many of its planned screenings of the film at middle and high schools. The appeal came one vote shy of the two-thirds majority required to overturn a rating.

Now it seems that there is an appeal of a different kind. Katy Butler, a high school student in Michigan, has posted a petition to Change.org, asking that the MPAA again reconsider its decision to give the movie an R rating. The petition, which appears to have been filed yesterday, has a target of 150,000 signatures. As of now, Tuesday afternoon, it has over 90,000 signatures.

I contacted the MPAA about the petition. I asked what their response to the petition would be, and their response to the claim that such a rating would prevent the film’s target audience from seeing it. As of yet they have not responded.

The petition can be found here. You can also see a trailer for the film below. Check it out, then let us know what you think in the comments.

  • Darlene Tremblay

    I don’t agree that this movie should be rated “r”. Here in Canada this year alone we had a few teens that ended their lives in suicide due to being bullied. It’s a big problem and the pre-teens and teens being bullied here swear words when they are being bullied, and the pain they feel is a worst hell for them then the cuss words they hear. This movie is intented for those kids, the ones being bullied and they need to know that they are not alone.

  • J E Nadder

    Pg13 would be perfect!!

  • MIchael Deutsch

    How do we stop it? I am a teacher and a 14 year boy committed suicide here just 3 weeks ago, and already it’s swept under the rug. This boy was gay, and had been bullied and beat up for a very long time. Finally, on a Friday, he was beat up and the kids who did it told him he should just kill himself. He did. Come on!!!! I spoke up and was threatened with my job because I’m new here, and I don’t know what the real story is. Right!!! Many people came up to me and told me he got what he deserved because of the way he was. Wake up!!! They are just children. I need help here. Please?!?!?

    • Allayna Wheat

      I admire your work as a teacher, and leader for fellow young people alike myself. I am too fourteen like the boy who you said who committed suicide. Everyone should be treated with respect no matter who they are, where they came from, or what they believe in. You’re courage gives me hope, the world has the potential to be a better place with people alike yourself in it.

  • Sherry Malicoat Laird

    I want to sign the petition but the “inside US” won’t change to states
    so that I can choose Georgia. Will keep trying. My comment is that
    this film is for KIDS, to help and to save KIDS,from the very real
    megaproblem of bullying. For pete’s sake, use some sanity here and
    rate the film for ALL children!!

  • Margaret Strickland

    I feel a documentary on bullying would be helpful to young people.Empathy can be obtained more easily when a young person can identify with a situation.How would I feel if this happened to me?We are our brothers keeper and I feel we each have a responsibility to make the world a better place.If the only thing preventing an acceptable rating is cuss words,I say remove some cuss words.Would that change the whole context of the movie?

  • Sandra

    I want to sign the petition

  • Allayna Wheat

    As a fourteen year old going to a public school five days a week, I pray to god that this movie will someday been shown in schools. Although the first step is showing it in movie theaters. The message is good, however without the necessary content within it the movie might not have the affect on people that was intended. How’re we going to allow films with no real message, and inappropriate scenes to be PG-13 but a movie as compassionate, and information as this be rated R? The main purpose is for teenagers to see the movie, not to drive them away from it.
    I couldn’t help but to cry when watching the trailer.

  • belinda

    If the MPAA refuses to let Bully get a PG-13 rating why can’t the movie be screened as Unrated? In the past some movie directors, producers, etc. rather than having their films get an R or NC-17 rating decided to have their films screened Unrated. If the film is Unrated I’d think it would be able to be seen by a wider audience, particularly for kids, including schools, where bullying seems to be happening the most. Yes Unrated films most times include material unsuited for younger audiences, but here the main sticking point seems to be language, which I hasten to believe younger audiences already know, hear, use or know people who speak these things their being shielded from. Anyway, just a thought and idea.

  • Sander van Hove

    I was bullied some 5 years in the 60’s in southern Spain. I took it as it came till I almost killed one of the bullies. The teachers later on told they never saw me being beaten, my books being shredded to peaces of paper, nor my bike being destroyed on a monthly basis. The bullie was the son of the chief of police. He never made it through high school, nor did his infamous friends. I did manage to build a carreer. Sadly history tends to repeat itself. My older daughter was tortured by bullies in the northern part of Europe. And here did the teachers fail all over again some 30 years later. The problem lies for a big part in the very hands you trust your children to 8 hours per day, teachers and no one else. The ‘teacher’ who dares to say the kids in the bus are as good as gold, should not be allowed to be in the proximity of any school. I would, as a parent, take her to court any day.