The trailer for Harvey Weinstein and Lee Hirsch’s much anticipated documentary Bully is out and it looks amazing. It’s an honest, tough look at school bullying and the adults who have stood by for too long.
But what’s interesting is that the Motion Picture Association of America gave it an R rating — so now high school kids can’t watch a documentary of the things actual high school kids say and do. Get that blows the middle and high school school tour. Phew!
GOOD has a concise overview of the problem, brought to light by 2006’s documentary on the MPAA This Film Is Not Yet Rated. It “railed against the MPAA’s puritanical and often arbitrary rating system.”
The documentary exposed the MPAA’s cadre of untrained anonymous raters, who are meant to represent regular American parents, but are really free to impose their own backwards values on the rest of the population. These untouchable judges rate gay sex as more explicit than straight sex, view sexual content and crass language as more troubling than horrific violence, are directly influenced by members of the clergy and are not necessarily even parents of teens.
Weinstein, the producer, has threatened to withdraw all of his movies from the MPAAs rating system (so then all the movies would carry a “this film is not rated”). Because giving a movie like Bully an R rating, which that group of anonymous untrained raters at least knows will bar anyone under 18 from seeing, is wrong. As director Lee Hirsch said,
“I made Bully for kids to see –- the bullies as well as the bullied. We have to change hearts and minds in order to stop this epidemic, which has scarred countless lives and driven many children to suicide.”