The Motion Picture Association of America
fucked up once again by handing out an R rating to the documentary Bully, which shows the horrific impact of its title subject. Mentioning the word fuck in film causes the MPAA to leap into hysteria and smack the harsh rating onto any number of films.
As you can see in the trailer for the documentary below, the film attempts to show the realities of bullying in school and life as a teenager. The truth of the matter is that people under the age of 17 use coarse language on a near daily basis. A film that tries to show this should not receive a rating that prohibits its target audience from seeing the movie and hopefully learning a powerful lesson.
Lee Hirsh, the director of the film, decided not to give up the fight despite losing its appeal. Hirsh started a petition asking the MPAA to overturn the decision. He writes:
That would in effect ban screenings at U.S. middle and high schools, where Weinstein and the filmmakers want to show it.
The film is set for a March 30 release in theaters. Without the overturn of this rating, the film will not be permitted to be shown to students and school children across the country.
We have a responsibility to the more than 13 million youth who are bullied every year in the US to make available this transformative story, their story.
He’s right. A few curse words should not deem a film taboo in our society. The MPAA is saying that words hurt and that lesson should not be taught through the film itself but through our own rating system.
Linda Holmes put it well for NPR:
The rating is about swear words. If the swear words get bleeped, they’ll change it. The MPAA is saying, whether they would put it in these terms or not, that it is more important that a parent or guardian be present to contextualize too many uses of the F-word — and be informed that their kid will be exposed to that — than it is that a parent or guardian be present to contextualize an 11-year-old committing suicide, and that the parent know that the kid is going to watch as the parents of a dead teenager tour the bedroom where he died.
Last year’s best picture winner King’s Speech received the same rating for it’s language, while more violent films like Terminator: Salvation are rated PG-13.
This decision by the MPAA merely showcases how out of touch they have become. As Hirsh notes, 13 million kids are bullied. We face an epidemic of teenage suicides because of the constant harassment in and out of schools.
MPAA needs to reverse direction and allow a teenager to choose this movie instead of the one’s that glorify violence. Please consider signing the petition.