The Weinstein Company’s documentary “Bully” has received some very prominent support, as some members of Congress are beginning to speak up about the film needing a PG-13 rating. The MPAA has pretty much already said that they won’t change the rating of the documentary, but with some members of Congress getting involved, could that be changing?
Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat who represents the San Jose, California area, has drafted a letter to MPAA Chairman and CEO Christopher Dodd, asking the former U.S. Senator to change the movie’s rating. You can read the full letter below:
Dear Senator Dodd:
We are writing to express our sincere disappointment in the Motion Picture Association of America’s decision to issue an R-rating for the soon-to-be-released documentary Bully. This important project shows the real life anguish of many teenagers in this country who are tormented, harassed, and bullied by their peers. This truth should be shared with as wide an audience as is appropriate and possible. We believe an R-rating excludes the very audience for whom this film is desperately important.
The current Change.org petition being circulated by Michigan high school junior Katy Butler has attracted over 267,000 signatures to date calling upon the MPAA to reconsider and change the R-rating to PG-13. Creating impediments for millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change – and in some cases, save – their lives, seems unreasonable to us. In support of this sentiment, and on behalf of the youth and families who suffer the direct and indirect effects of bullying, we believe that this film should be made available to the audiences to which this is most pertinent, present and urgent.
The language in the film is a reflection of reality in our schools, on our buses, and online – something these kids experience every single day. It’s not sensationalized “adult content” as your rating suggests and is oftentimes an active part of bullying itself. This depiction is honest, and although striking at times, we should not censor reality. The educational benefit of this documentary, possibly life-saving, appears to clearly outweigh the utterances of profanity.
We need only remember the story of Ty Field, an 11 year old who took his own life after overwhelming harassment at school, to know that younger audiences need to be exposed to the message behind this film. In short, it is never too early to teach our children the golden rule, empathy, and the repercussions of bullying behavior.
Research shows more than 13 million kids will be bullied over the course of this year alone, and countless more are bystanders in these tragic situations. Over 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students, proving that our school environments have room to be more conducive for dialogue, knowledge and an exchange of our stories. We cannot hope to control this epidemic without widespread, mainstream educational efforts. This film is an important contribution to this cause.
We commend the Weinstein Company, Writer Lee Hirsch, and Executive Director Patricia Finneran for tackling this tough issue in documentary form. We are moved by the stories in the film, commend these brave people for their honesty and sincerely hope this film can be viewed by as broad of an audience as possible. With this in mind, we ask you to reconsider the R-rating in the context of its educational importance and life-changing potential.
Member of Congress
If you’re unfamiliar with the film “Bully”, you can watch the official trailer below:
Do you think the MPAA will ever change the rating of “Bully”? Tell us your thoughts in the comment box below.