“Bully,” which will be released on March 3o, is a powerful and critically important documentary about the tragic consequences of bullying on children and teenagers. It can no longer be dismissed as an inevitable part of growing up or something that children should work out for themselves. This film includes horrifying footage of school bus rides and heartbreaking interviews with children who have been bullied and parents whose children committed suicide after being bullied. It has received an R rating from the MPAA for language used by teenagers in the film. The producers appealed, asking for a PG-13 and lost by one vote. They had a majority, but the rules require a two-thirds vote.
This is another bone-headed decision from the MPAA, which routinely gives PG-13 ratings to feature films with extremely raunchy, violent, and irresponsible content. The appeal board’s decision eliminates the potential for “Bully” to reach a mass national audience of students through screenings at U.S. middle and high schools, where the film could be used as a starting point for discussions with students, parents, and teachers. One school district that had planned to have 40,000 students see the film has had to cancel its plans because of the R rating. It is appalling that a documentary about the real lives of children and teens is considered too “adult” for them to see.
A teenager has gathered more than 75,000 names on a Change.org petition to ask MPAA for a PG-13 rating.