Bullying is a big problem. Over 13 million children in the U.S. are bullied each year. The bullying can take the form of verbal, physical or cyber abuse. In some cases, it can lead kids who have been the victims of constant bullying to take their own lives.
Bully is a new movie about bullying and will soon be hitting theaters around the country. However, the film has been given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). This means that kids will have to see the movie with their parents, and also it cannot be shown in schools, where it is most needed. For example, the Cincinnati School District signed on to bus 40,000 of their students to the movie – but because the Appeals Board retained the R rating, the School District will have to cancel those plans. There have been protests about the R rating from many groups and also celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, and Johnny Depp. Twenty members of Congress have also requested a change in the rating. The appeal to have the MPAA change the rating to PG-13, filed by Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the company which distributes the film, was denied. The MPAA has defended its rating, pointing to the violence and raw language used in the film.
Former senator Chris Dodd, now chairman of the MPAA, extended a lifeline to the film’s distributor saying the film could launch unrated. He was responding to criticism that much more graphic films, with a much less important message, have been assigned the PG-13 rating.
Bully – Trailer #1
Perhaps this is time when the MPAA leadership should think beyond the narrow confines of its charter. By weighing the benefits of a PG-13 rating to expand the audience for this important documentary, the MPAA would make an immense contribution to the efforts of teachers, parents and kids to end bullying. In this case, the visceral experience of bullying could motivate us as a nation to put an end to the violence that so many children have to deal with each day.