Today, The Weinstein Company is releasing the documentary Bully without a rating, following the recent controversy surrounding the R-rating it was given by the MPAA for including six F-bombs.
The documentary, which follows five American families affected by bullying, has gathered a lot of attention as it’s the first to deal head on with the epidemic of childhood bulling and its potentially fatal consequences. No group of kids is more at risk than LGBT youth, but an R rating would mean faculty couldn’t screen the movie in schools and young people couldn’t see it in theaters without their parents.
The film contains real footage of real kids being bullied at or on the way to school. It’s during these scenes that the F-bombs are dropped, the first two within the first 10 minutes of the film. Addressing the MPAA’s sugestion to re-edit Bully, director Lee Hirsch told the Hollywood Reporter, “The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real.”
Ironically, it is kids who are uttering the curse words in Bully. Does anyone really think we’re protecting the fragile ears of innocent children here? That kind of mentality is why the bullying epidemic has gone unchecked for so long.
Releasing a film without a rating is a big risk for already embattled movie houses: Most big theater chains having a policy never to show such films, leaving it to art houses to screen it. However Regal Cinemas has stated it will release the film with an R rating, while AMC has announced it will show it at many locations to anyone with a permission slip or guardian. Which is basically the same as an R rating.
Getting Bully into as many theaters as possible is paramount. Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres and Meryl Streep have stepped up in support of the film and an online petition collected over a half-million signatures urging the MPAA to reconsider. Speaking at a special viewing in New York organized by GLAAD this week, Hirsch said “I hope the movie touches and moves people…[in] small-town America. That’s where people are begging for it.”
What do you think? Should young teens be allowed to see a film with such disturbing issues (and, apparently, language) without adult supervision? Sound off below.
Bully opens March 30 in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide April 13.