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The Weinstein Company Loses R Rating Appeal for BULLY Documentary And They’re Not Having It!

The Kidd here, welcoming another AICNer into the fold... Miss Raven McCoy. Raven is a part of the new South Florida contingent that's making its debut here, bringing a strong female voice with her, so welcome her... or don't. Either way, I'll let her take it from here...


Every day millions of kids are bullied for their appearance, sexual orientation, clothes or for no reason at all. With the increase of school violence and teens committing suicide as a result of bullying, documentary filmmaker Lee Hirsch made a documentary in 2011 called THE BULLY PROJECT that tackled the reality of bullying in schools and the different ways people react to it. It was quickly picked up by The Weinstein Company with the intent of screening it at high schools and middle schools so they could learn from it.  However it seems that the MPAA wishes to prevent students from seeing a movie they might actually benefit them.

Earlier this week the MPAA gave the film an ‘R’ rating for “some language.”  This rating means that THE BULLY PROJECT, now titled BULLY, can’t be shown in high schools or middle schools, preventing the film’s intended audience from seeing it!  Harvey Weinstein, co-chair of TWC, along with one of the film’s subjects, appeared before the MPAA yesterday to appeal the rating and plead for a PG-13 rating so it could be screened in schools and shed light on a very serious issue.

The MPAA, an organization who has no problem letting children 13 and up see massive amounts of blood and violence, announced their decision to deny the appeal this morning. Apparently some of the film’s subjects used certain language in a certain context one too many times that they couldn’t overlook the strong rating.  To make matters worse it turns out that the appeal failed to pass by ONE VOTE! One single vote.

Shocked by the news, Weinstein released a statement that "The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far." It would be a bold move for company and I applaud them for standing up for such a topical film. If they do leave the MPAA the film could go unrated and remain intact without any edits but it would also severely limit the number of theaters that would be able to carry it further reducing the ability of others to see it. 

I have yet to see BULLY, as it’s only been screened at a select few film festivals, but I was incredibly moved just by the trailer. To see so how cruel students can be and the way in which so many adults and administrators down play bullying makes me worry for today’s youth and fear for my future kids.  And with the MPAA being an organization out to dictate what is suitable for audiences, I find it very upsetting that they would deem something so relevant and meaningful to be unsuitable for the very individuals who are the film’s focus.  Stop being so naïve as to think they need to be shielded from something they go through every day, whether you wish to acknowledge it or not.

Set for a March 30 release, I’m curious to see if TWC will try to appeal it again because of their passion for the film and strong desire for audiences to see it or if they might consider editing it down ever so slightly to get a PG-13 so students can still see it and learn from it. Maybe they’ll forgo ratings altogether, go with an Unrated, release it where they can and begin a campaign for unrated movies to be shown in locations, including schools.

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