Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Finally, a 'Bully' I could approve of

I've been a vocal critic for 25 years of the rating system created by the Motion Picture Association of America, but I have to congratulate it for a recent decision: dropping the rating on the documentary "Bully" from an R to a PG-13, so the people who most need to see it can easily do so.

The Weinstein Company didn't make the film available to me for a timely review, so I'll be checking it out like a regular civilian when it opens April 13. But it addresses a crucial issue parents may never hear about: the harassment, sometimes physical but often cruelly verbal, that students face. It can be racial, sexual, weight-related, ethnic; the categories are nearly infinite. And because cyberbullying is so easy and anonymous, it has an especially cruel effect.

The MPAA initially rated the film "R," because of some harsh profanity. It argued then that a standard needed to be maintained: If it permitted this kind of cursing in a PG-13 movie, producers of gangster pictures and sex comedies might demand an equally soft rating for their films. Weinstein argued that an exemption needed to be made, because many parents wouldn't let middle-schoolers -- the main target audience -- see an R-rated film.

The ratings board thought this over and agreed that the epidemic of bullying outweighed the need to protect pre-teens from words they've probably heard in person (and sometimes had directed at them by nasty peers). That choice showed the soundest kind of common sense and shouldn't open the door to someone demanding a PG-13 for "American Pie XVI." The ratings folks got this one right.


Anonymous said...

WRONG! The filmmakers were forced to compromise and edit out most of the language to get down to the "allowable" number of F-Bombs.