It was only two days ago that we featured the trailer for Lee Hirsch’s Bully, also explaining the debate over its rating from the MPAA. After receiving an ‘R’ rating for the documentary, The Weinstein Company quickly asked for an appeal, with the hope that they would receive a PG-13 rating that would allow schools to show the film to its students.
Unfortunately for The Weinstein Company, the appeal was rejected earlier today, and Harvey Weinstein has been quick to release a press statement on the matter.
“The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future…The appeal board’s decision eliminates the potential for Bully to reach a mass national audience of students through screenings at U.S. middle and high schools, where the film could be used as a tool to stop an epidemic of physical, psychological and emotional violence.”
Harvey attended the appeal along with Alex Libby, one of the bullied children documented in the film, who 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.”
The statement continues:
“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.”
We have already featured problems with the ratings from the Motion Picture Association of America in recent history, with Emily Browning’s hit out indicative of the frustration with the association. Movies do not have to get a rating from the MPAA to distribute their film – in fact, the rating they receive is only a guideline and does not have to be used by the film. Unfortunately, to gain exhibition in certain cinema outlets, rental stores and video-on-demand, films must gain a rating below NC-17 and even an R rating can diminish the number of screens available. In a time where the form is evolving, the archaic rating system at the MPAA is obvious to see and does not reflect today’s social standards.
Personally, I’m glad that there are people willing to take on the MPAA. We will keep you updated about the rating for Bully but it is still scheduled for an American release on March 30th.