A few years back, I found myself writing a letter to the corporate office of our local movie theater chain because they refused admission to a seventeen-year-old that wanted to see a movie that was rated "R" with a group of his older friends. I worked at a movie theater for many years, at one point in management, so I was certain that I understood the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings scale and angry to learn that the young man had been turned away at the box office. It turns out that, despite national advertising, local ordinances can be different from the MPAA's recommendation. Moviegoers in my area have to be eighteen years old before they can see an R-rated movie without a parent or guardian.
The whole point of the ratings system is to help parents determine what they think is appropriate material for their children to see or not to see. But, the MPAA has given the new documentary Bully an "R-Restricted" rating, allegedly, because it contains profanity. This has outraged anti-bullying advocates who insist that the rating should be "PG-13" so that more kids can see the film in schools and theaters without parents having to take them. This, they believe, is the audience that NEEDS to learn the message that this movie brings to light.
The trailer for "Bully" is below ...
Many people are fighting to get the rating changed including celebrities like Demi Lavato, Drew Brees and Ellen DeGeneres. An online petition to change the rating, in addition to the national attention that has been brought to the decision, has prompted an unusual Washington, DC panel and screening later this week. The "R" rating is said to be based on profane language, which appears primarily in a scene where a bully threatens a victim.
"There is some language in the movie. It's mature but it's not gratuitous because it's part of the real story of bullying and it's real language that bullies are using -- but having an R rating makes it difficult for anyone under 17 to see it. After seeing it, I can tell you that the lessons that the kids learn from this movie are more important than any words that they might hear -- and they're words that they know already anyway." – Ellen DeGeneres
Needless to say, the Parents Television Council applauded the MPAA's rating which brings even more attention to the debate. (I'll never understand why they get more worked up about sex and language than they do over violence, drugs and killing.)
Regardless of the outcome, I certainly hope that pre-teens and other children get to see this movie and that it will influence their thinking when it comes to the problem of bullying. Some of the young bullies causing problems in the world might not even know that they ARE bullies. And this movie could be the thing that makes them understand the consequences of their actions.
Do you think the rating should be changed so more youngsters can see Bully?
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