Monday, March 19, 2012

Restricted "Bully"

Have you heard about the movie “Bully” yet?

“Bully,” a new documentary film directed by Sundance and Lee Hirsch, offers an intimate look at how bullying has effected five kids and their families. It was filmed during 2009/2010 school year and is planned to be released in select theaters on March 30, 2012. (

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has given this film an R rating.

The rating has stirred a lot of controversy.

Some say it is hard to watch because of the profanities, violence and raw emotions and would leave teens and younger audience shaken.  (Funny- since that is what bulling does…don’t you think?)

A Michigan teen has started an on-line petition and has been joined by members of congress, celebrities, and other high profile individuals in hopes of lowering the R rating to PG-13. Those against the R rating feel it will stop the intended audience from viewing it.

The MPAA provides film ratings so that parents can determine what movies are appropriate for their children to see and still allow freedom of expression for filmmakers. The ratings do not determine if the movie is good, only the level of various material it contains. The ratings are determined by a board of parents independent from the film and film makers. The ratings consist of G- general audiences, PG- parental guidance suggested, PG13- parents strongly advised, may not be appropriate for children under the age of 13, R- restricted, children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult, not appropriate for young children, and NC17- no one under 17 admitted. (For more information on these ratings please go to

The biggest concern with the restricted rating for "Bully" is that the film will not be seen by its intended audience nor will it be able to be shown in schools or other groups for educational purposes. 

So we ask ourselves- Do films like the documentary "Bully" provide us with the opportunity to talk about tough issues and promote awareness? If so, will the restrictive rating stop us from doing so?

I haven't seen the movie yet, but from my understanding the R rating is due to inappropriate language. The director has stated that he refuses to edit the content because it will take away from the impact of the bullying. The ten member panel of parents representing the MPAA refuses to lower the rating. Is the MPAA outdated and remote?

We head out into this world everyday, faced with the harsh language, violent acts, and raw emotional pain from others. Profanities are yelled in public areas, school buses, cafeterias, and just about anywhere you can think of each and every day. Our lives are not restricted. What we hear is not filtered. The negative things that happens to us are not edited out.
Are we thinking that if we don't read about it, talk about it, see it, then it will all just go away???

According to the, over 13 million kids in the United States will be bullied this year, making bullying the most common form of violence among youth.  I don't think the problem of bullying is going to go away.

Of course we want to shield ourselves (our children, our friends, our family, everyone) from harsh words, violence, and emotional pain, but I'm not so sure it's the movie we're trying to protect ourselves from. Don't we want to be protected from bullying and violence in our schools, workplaces, and public areas? Will being stopped from seeing a movie do that? Or will seeing the movie and talking about it be more effective?...

Will the R rating stop you from seeing the film?

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