A movement grows to protest “R” rating for new bullying documentary


An exciting new documentary is set to hit theaters March 30.  Produced by an award-winning director, Bully follows several bullied students in different states over an entire school year. It’s said to be brutally unrelenting in its portrayal of the real damage and pain caused by bullying, but it also offers hope and solutions, and encourages its audience to get involved.

However, because the Motion Picture Association of America – the organization responsible for giving ratings like G, PG, PG-13, and R to films – has given the film an R rating, Bully may not reach the middle and high school audiences whose lives it is meant to impact.

This is ironic, because the reason that the MPAA gave the restrictive rating to the film is for a few instances of profanity – that is uttered by real middle schoolers in the course of taunting a peer. According to the reviewer at Movable Feast, profanity “involves a handful of expletive-laced threats out of the mouths of pubescents that the film chillingly points out would be overheard on any school bus in America.”  The rating means that minors under age 17 are not allowed to view the movie in theaters without a parent or adult present, and that schools will be unlikely to host showings, which the movie’s producers, the Weinstein Company, had hoped to arrange.

The Weinstein Company, filed an appeal with MPAA to ask the board to grant a PG-13 movie, and director Lee Hirsh and student Alex Libbey, one of the bullied students featured in the film, pled the film’s case in a hearing earlier this week. But the members of the MPAA review board, whose inconsistent and non-transparent judging process has been criticized in the past, rejected the appeal.

So what’s next? The director could re-edit the movie to try for a less restrictive rating, but he doesn’t want to dilute the impact of the real-life events he depicts. Meanwhile, a woman in Michigan who was bullied as a child has begun an online petition drive directed at the MPAA. “I’m speaking out for all those students who suffer every day at school,” she writes.

You can sign the petition here. We hope you’ll click on over and stand up to bullying!

5 thoughts on “A movement grows to protest “R” rating for new bullying documentary”

  1. I agree that this film should be rated PG-13 in order to reach young people. This is an important film and can benefit so many.

  2. You can walk through any mall and hear much worse. I would like to see this film released intact because it is a true picture of bullying. We have lost too many young people to this situation.

  3. I sit by a window everyday that kids play outside by — they have the worst vocabulary there is — out there without adult supervision. This movie needs to be seen by kids don’t keep that from happening. It may even save lives!

  4. A lot of violence is shown in regular TV commercials, specially during Halloween season, non of these are rated “R”. Or have a child walk in to a gaming store and see the ads for these violent games, only the games are rated “R” not the commercial for it… The movie is so real, we had to pull our child out of public school when she was 10… If the movie is rated “R” for situations that happen every day on our school yards, why not close all schools as well?

  5. The MPAA is a politically motivated group, and is obviously using it’s rating of “Bully” to make a point – to goad us all to sign the petition. I say leave the rating as is – and show it in school as is. Let those squimish head-in-the-sand parents opt out if reality bothers them so badly.

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