Considering the roughly 13 million American kids who face bullying of all kinds every year, the film Bully could not come at a better time. The documentary, directed by Lee Hirsch and slated for a March 30 release, follows the lives of five bullying victims as a way to draw attention to the plight of victimized middle school and high school students across the country.
Unfortunately, the MPAA just slapped an 'R' rating on the documentary, which means that viewers must be at least 17 in order to watch it. (Younger viewers may only attend if they have parents or guardians accompanying them.)
The Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film, believes that this sort of rating will discourage younger viewers from attending -- and that in the case of a movie like this, younger viewers should see it.
"What we have found is that when kids see the movie, their reaction seems to be -- there are documented cases of this -- they say, 'I stood up to a bully' or 'I intervened in a bullying situation where I wouldn't have done before,'" said Stephen Bruno, president of marketing.
As the premiere date for the film draws near, Harvey Weinstein himself has started pushing the MPAA to change the film's rating (which, by the way, was given because the word "fuck" appears in the movie six times). Recently, he even asked Lady Gaga to join him in the fight to reverse the 'R' decision; Weinstein believes that celebrities like her will be able to bring the film's important message about bullying to a wider audience.
Coincidentally, the fight over the film's rating has drummed up some nice publicity for the movie. For example, this Wednesday, a Michigan high school student delivered an online petition of 225,000 signatures to the MPAA's Los Angeles headquarters, in order to support the Weinstein Co.'s ongoing battle with them.
Even Ellen DeGeneres is jumping on board. "After seeing it, I can tell you that the lessons that the kids learn from this movie are more important than any words that they might hear," she said on Ellen. "And they are words they already know, anyway."
Truth! Nowadays, many kids say "fuck" a whole lot more than six times a day. Let's hope the MPAA comes around and changes the film's rating, and that the film's message gets out to everyone who could possibly benefit from it.