Rather than putting out the controversial documentary “Bully” with the “R” rating assigned by the MPAA, producers announced on Monday (March 26) that they will release it as an unrated film. The Weinstein Company movie looks at how bullying impacts children and their families.
“The small amount of language in the film that’s responsible for the R rating is there because it’s real,” director Lee Hirsch says in a statement. “It’s what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days. All of our supporters see that, and we’re grateful for the support we’ve received across the board.”
The section that the MPAA had particular objection to involved a profanity-laced tirade from a bully toward a 12-year-old. When producers declined to re-cut the scene, the ratings fate was all but sealed.
TWC along with major celebs including Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres and Meryl Streep had each called on the MPAA to change their mind. Even a Michigan teen, herself a bullying victim, started an online petition to convince the MPAA. But the nearly half a million signatures did nothing to change their opinion.
As a “R” film, no one under 17 is admitted without a parent or guardian. By releasing it with no rating, it is up to the individual theater owners to decide who they will admit into the screening.
“The kids and families in this film are true heroes, and we believe theater owners everywhere will step up and do what’s right for the benefit of all of the children out there who have been bullied or may have otherwise become bullies themselves,” TWC’s marketing chief Stephen Bruno says in a statement.
The MPAA counters by saying, “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.”
The film is out in select theaters on Friday (March 30).