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MPAA Bullies "Bully"


We hear it all the time: “Bullying is a major problem in America.” 

I’m betting most of us were bullied to a certain degree at some point in our lives (unless you were the one doing the bullying, in which case: boo to you) or at the very least have seen it happen to someone. It IS a major problem. It’s getting worse. The MPAA isn’t helping.

The Motion Picture Association of America is a group of crotchety old people (I assume) who watch a movie before it’s released and count the dirty words, boobies and moments of violence, and then arbitrarily assign that movie a rating. Sometimes that rating is stupid. The MPAA’s latest act of wanton head-up-assery involves the rating of the documentary “Bully.”

“Bully,” originally titled “The Bully Project,” is a documentary about bullying in U.S. schools and follows five students, one of whom is from Mississippi, and their families as they deal with bullying on a daily basis. Lee Hirsch, the director of the documentary, said he got the idea from his own experiences as a child. The plan was that the movie could not only be shown in theaters but ultimately in schools and help spread awareness and help children suffering from bullying to get the support they need. 

Well, guess what? The MPAA says no. “Bully” cannot be shown in schools, nor can the very school kids in the movie are trying to help even legally see it because it has been slapped it with an R-rating for “some language.” Not “graphic language” or “strong pervasive language throughout.” Some. Language. 

Now, ratings are not always arbitrary, and I understand and support the idea of the rating system so that you know what you’re getting into when you go see a film and so that certain age groups are less likely to see “Saw 14” or “The Hangover Part 6: Hungover on the Moon,” but what the ratings board deems appropriate for children can often be somewhat head-scratching.

I haven’t seen “Bully” yet, and they may curse like Eddie Murphy (the real Eddie Murphy, not the bland unfunny imposter who’s been using his name for 15 years) for all I know, but when movies like the “Transformers” series, which contain unbelievable amounts of violence, swearing, sexuality, Shia Labeouf and racism, get not only a PG-13 rating but are specifically marketed toward children, it makes me pretty angry that a documentary designed to address such a growing problem in America gets an R-rating.

Now the producers of the film are fighting the rating and may slightly recut the film in order to get a PG-13, but hopefully it won’t come to that. There’s an online petition to the MPAA at www.change.org that requests that they lower the rating. I won’t tell you what to do, but I certainly signed it, though frankly I’d probably sign any petition that challenged the MPAA and their fickle rating system.

As Mrs. Broflovski said in the “South Park” movie, “Remember what the MPAA says: horrific, deplorable violence is OK, as long as people don’t say any naughty words!”