MPAA Uphold ‘Bully’ R-Rating; Weinsteins Threaten to Leave MPAA; The MPAA Responds; Watch the Trailer too!
One hot button in the industry these days is the MPAA ratings system. Some movies with tons of violence get PG-13 ratings while others with just a few F bombs and nothing else get the big ol’ R rating. It’s an odd system that our prudent society has developed but either way there are obvious flaws that people have issues with. Most recently, The Weinstein Company’s upcoming documentary Bully, formerly The Bully Project and directed by Lee Hirsch, received a R rating and had lost its appeal for a PG-13 rating by one vote.
This was upsetting news for the Weinsteins whose goal was to use it as an anti-bullying tool in schools. Now it seems The Weinstein Co (TWC) is threatening a leave of absence from the MPAA ratings system. While that may seem like a big deal nobody from the company is a member of the organization so essentially all their films could now all be unrated, which means it will lost out on some business.
I’ve posted the statements from both TWC and the MPAA and followed them up with my own commentary on the matter and how ludicrous this ordeal is (Also, read Melissa’s review of the movie here).
Here’s the statement from Harvey Weinstein:
As of today, 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.
I have been through many of these appeals, but this one vote loss is a huge blow to me personally. Alex Libby gave an impassioned plea and eloquently defended the need for kids to be able to see this movie on their own, not with their parents, because that is the only way to truly make a change.
With school-age children of my own, I know this is a crucial issue and school districts across the U.S. have responded in kind. 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.
I personally am going to ask celebrities and personalities worldwide, from Lady Gaga (who has a foundation of her own) to the Duchess of Cambridge (who was a victim of bullying and donated wedding proceeds) to First Lady Michelle Obama (whose foundation has reached out to us as well), to take a stand with me in eradicating bullying and getting the youth into see this movie without restriction.
And here is the response from the MPAA:
“Bullying is a serious issue and is a subject that parents should discuss with their children. The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that Bullycan serve as a vehicle for such important discussions.
The MPAA also has the responsibility, however, to acknowledge and represent the strong feedback from parents throughout the country who want to be informed about content in movies, including language.
The rating and rating descriptor of ‘some language,’ indicate to parents that this movie contains certain language. With that, some parents may choose to take their kids to this movie and others may not, but it is their choice and not ours to make for them. The R rating is not a judgment on the value of any movie. The rating simply conveys to parents that a film has elements strong enough to require careful consideration before allowing their children to view it. Once advised, many parents may take their kids to see an R-rated film. School districts, similarly, handle the determination of showing movies on a case-by-case basis and have their own guidelines for parental approval.”
While I believe both sides have extremely valid arguments, and in the scope of the rules the MPAA is correct, but if you ask me there are other issues here that need to be examined.
Although I may not have seen the film, I’m 23 years old and know exactly how the kids of today act and speak. At the age of 13, today’s teens are concerned with sex, foul language and being consumerist assholes. If the MPAA and the parents of America think that the students who are going to sit down and watch this documentary don’t already know a majority of bad words in the film then these people need to rethink their position and go out into the field. I feel for the Weinsteins in that the R rating is going to prevent some students from seeing the film, because no teen willingly watches a documentary and schools are naturally conservative, but if they want to show it in high school I don’t understand why cursing would be a problem, middle school I sort of can understand the issue.
As for the Weinstein’s threat to leave, the above statement is very political and I’m sure the unofficial statement was fuelled with rage and lots of naughty words. Since it means nothing to the MPAA if TWC gets its films rated or not the threat feels kind of empty and strictly for publicity, but if it was serious then one could claim the Weinsteins are now using a bullying tactic themselves to get what they want and are making those that are abiding by the rules feel inferior, something this documentary definitely touches upon.
I could go on and on because this is an important issue to me but I think you get my general point. Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter and lets open this up for discussion.
Also, if you haven’t seen the trailer for Bully yet, give it a gander below as its bound to make an impact on you with only two minutes of footage to show for it.