Alex, 12 of Sioux City, Iowa, pictured above, is one of 5 kids who are featured in the documentary film Bully. The Weinstein Company film is scheduled to be released at the end of the month. The movie follows 5 kids and their families, over the course of an entire school year. and according to promotional materials the“film offers insight into the often cruel world of the lives of bullied children.”
Perhaps most shocking is the extent to which this violent behavior is accepted as normal, shrugged off as "boys will be boys." One assistant principal forces a bully and his victim to shake hands to "resolve" the conflict. Alex's father is seen advising him to stand up to the other kids to prove he's not a punching bag, as if that were a prerequisite for being treated like a human being.
I read yesterday that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which is owned by Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers, and allegedly self regulates the motion-picture industry - better known as “Hollywood,” and also happens to control film ratings, gave an “R” rating to the film Bully. According to press reports, the film was given an “R” Rating because the word “fuck” is used 6 times in the film.
I’m sorry but that's just foolish and INSANE. Since an “R” rating was assigned to the movie, kids won’t be able to go see it unless an adult (parent/guardian) is present, and they will not be able to show the film within schools. I wonder if the fact that the movie is not a big studio release, is owned by the independent minded studio, the Weinstein Company, had any impact on the decision.
This crap infuriates me - and I hope that you are as infuriated as I am. I emailed the MPAA, I wrote a letter to the current Chairman, Senator Christopher Dodd, and I faxed the letter to the MPAA offices in New York, Washington, DC and Los Angeles. I also signed the petition at change.org. There are currently over 200,000 signatures.
In a review of the film in Variety, by Ronnie Scheib, it says:
Certainly no one would mistake 16-year-old star athlete Kelby for a punching bag. But when she comes out as gay, she is insulted, ostracized, deliberately struck by a car and denied a place on sports teams she once dominated. In interviews, she initially refuses to leave her small Oklahoma hometown for more tolerant pastures, adamant in her belief she can make a difference. After months of oppression, however, she realizes she cannot do so alone.
Don’t read the reviews - as it could diminish the impact of the film. I have to say that this is a film that has to be seen by young and old alike.
When I was reading about this story when I woke up this morning, I was reminded how just one person can have a positive impact through selfless acts. I read about Katy Butler, a 17 year old high school student in Michigan. The CNN.com website published this:
Katy Butler, a 17-year-old high school student from Michigan, delivered a petition (with more than 200,000 signatures) Wednesday to the Motion Picture Association of America's office in Sherman Oaks, California.
Her message: Lower the MPAA rating of the upcoming Weinstein Company documentary from R to PG-13. "Bully," a look at the rise of adolescent bullying in America, was rated R for "some language" -- specifically for the f-word, which is used a reported six times in the film. An R rating means that adolescents under the age of 17 -- the documentary's intended audience -- cannot see the film without an adult guardian.
Butler, who came out as a lesbian in middle school and has been the victim of repeated bullying, launched the online petition on February 26. Since then, she has been featured on CNN and Fox News, and was in the audience during today's taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," during which DeGeneres urged her viewers to also sign the petition.
BRAVO Katy. Some kids have such tremendous courage at such a young age, and it’s incredible.
Please do what you can to call, or write, or email the MPAA, and/or the Classification and Ratings Board. Please "like" the film Bully on Facebook. You can ask your friends to do the same. We have to stand up when people are biased and act so stupidly.
There is a documentary film called Gunner Palace. It too was given an “R” rating. The word "fuck" is apparently uttered over 40 times! The MPAA changed the rating to PG13. There is a precedent here. Make your voice heard! You can copy and paste my letter if you’d like - I don’t care - as long as you send it. I will post my letter separately)
We’re doing this for the other Katy’s and Alex’s in the world. And we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
The Email Address for the MPAA is: email@example.com
straight talk in a queer world.