Just a couple of weeks after the MPAA reiterated their decision to keep the upcoming documentary Bully rated R, The Weinstein Company has decided to release the film as unrated by the MPAA on March 30th.
The film, which chronicles an epidemic of school bullying, was given an “R” rating for language (and missed the PG-13 rating by just one vote). Naturally, this angered those that felt that an R rating would hamper the film’s visibility, as many schools couldn’t show it in their classrooms. Of course, this kind of defeats the purpose of a film like this, which is meant, in part, to be educational.
Not only did TWC ask the MPAA to reconsider their decision, a grassroots effort to change the rating began online. Through social media and a huge online petition begun at change.org, hundreds of thousands of people expressed their disapproval of the rating. While such public outpouring definitely hit on the MPAA’s radar, they maintained that “the R rating is not a judgment on the value of any movie” and that “the rating simply conveys to parents that a film has elements strong enough to require careful consideration before allowing their children to view it.”
But it was clear that an R rating would scare off some parents and schools, who would be wary of showing it to children and young teenagers.
“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real,” said the film’s director Lee Hirsch. “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.”
“While it’s often heartbreaking and deals with tough issues like suicide, the movie addresses bullying in a frank and relatable way that is age appropriate for teens and relevant for middle schoolers if an adult is present to guide the discussion,” said James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO, Common Sense Media. “The MPAA’s ratings system is inadequate when it comes looking at a movie’s content through the lens of its larger thematic issues.”