The Weinstein Company’s powerful and much criticized documentary Bully will be hitting select theaters this weekend. Over the last few weeks there had been much debate (and controversy) due to the rating of this particular doc. As the titles suggests, it deals with bullying; a problem in schools that is abundant enough to deem it an epidemic. Yet for as much as the doc does to bring the problem to light, the MPAA just can’t get past the two F-bombs in it which automatically label it with an R-rating regardless of the overall content.
Public and critical disagreement with the MPAA is nothing new but if there’s one man who will go toe-to-toe with them over their decision, it’s Harvey Weinstein. Rather take his toys and play somewhere else than let the association change his film, Harvey will release Bully both unrated and uncut. While that’s a good thumbing of the nose, if the R-rating would certainly limit the exposure to teens and families (read: the target audience), what do they think will happen when this is rated UR? I guess it’s better than NC-17 right?
For more disclosure, here’s the official press statement which explains TWC’s side of the story:
“March 26, 2012 – New York, NY – After a recent plea to the MPAA by BULLY teen Alex Libby and The Weinstein Company (TWC) Co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein failed – by one vote – to get the film its deserved PG-13 rating, TWC is choosing to move forward with releasing the film unrated by the MPAA on March 30.
Furthering proof that the R rating for some language is inappropriate for a film that’s meant to educate and help parents, teachers, school officials and children with what’s become an epidemic in schools around the country, the fight against the rating continues on. The outpour of support by politicians, schools, parents, celebrities and activists for the film’s mission to be seen by those it was made for – children – has been overwhelming. Nearly half a million people have signed Michigan high school student and former bullying victim Katy Butler’s petition on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower the rating.
Said BULLY Director Lee Hirsch, “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 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. We’re working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country,” said TWC President of Marketing Stephen Bruno.
For parents or teachers who are looking for more information or who may have concerns about showing children a movie unrated by the MPAA, please read Common Sense Media’s rating details of the film here: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/bully.
“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. Common Sense Media provides alternative ratings for parents who are looking for more guidance and context than the MPAA provides.”
BULLY will be released in theaters on 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.
BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.”
For those of you who missed it, here’s the trailer …
I’ll be attending a screening of it tonight so I’ll give you the inside scoop (with regards to the embargo) as soon as I’m able. Bully is set to hit NY and LA this weekend on March 30th, 2012 and opens a little wider on April 13th.
What do you think about the rating issue and who do you stand with? Further what are your thoughts on the message of the film??