Unable to persuade the MPAA to give a PG-13 rating to “Bully,” the documentary about the tragic consequences of verbal and physical abuse, the producers have decided to released it “unrated.”
â€śThe small amount of language in the film thatâ€™s responsible for the R rating is there because itâ€™s real,â€ť said director Lee Hirsch. â€śItâ€™s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and weâ€™re grateful for the support weâ€™ve received across the board. I know the kids will come, so itâ€™s up to the theaters to let them in.â€ť
Nearly half a million people signed a petition from Katy Butler, Michigan high school student and former bullying victim, on Change.org to urge the MPAA to lower the rating.Â â€śThe kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do whatâ€™s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves,â€ť said TWC president of marketing Stephen Bruno. â€śWeâ€™re working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country.â€ť
The MPAA refused the appeal by one vote and refused to reconsider despite the support of Representative Mike Honda and David Boies and Ted Olson, the high-power lawyers who opposed each other in Bush v. Gore and were on the same side in the successful challenge to California’s Proposition 8.
The MPAA, which routinely gives PG-13 ratings to movies with the “f-word” and with very crude and explicit sexual material insist on an R-rating for this film because it includes strong language actually used by teenagers. Â Parents and high school and middle schoolers (who know these words) are exactly the audience who should see this film and discuss their own experiences. Â Stay tuned for an interview with director Lee Hirsch coming later this week.