'Bully' Message Shouldn't Go Unheard

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

'Bully' Message Shouldn't Go Unheard

Bullying.jpg“If a tree falls down in a forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Along those lines, if a poignant, provocative documentary is produced and shown in select theaters – albeit only to a select audience – does its message truly resonate? Some think not.

Currently, more than 138,000 individuals have joined a formerly bullied high schooler’s campaign on Change.org, which contends that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) should change the rating of the new film “Bully” from “R” to “PG-13.” According to high school student Katy Butler, a film that is not allowed to be shown to anyone younger than 17 precludes two groups that need to see the film most – high school and middle school students.

“I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking American teenagers from seeing a movie that could literally save thousands of lives,” said Katy, a junior at Greenhills High School in Michigan who launched the campaign. “I’m speaking out for all those students who suffer every day because of bullying. The MPAA needs to give Bully a PG-13 so the students being bullied, and the bullies themselves, can see this film and schools can show it as well.”

Bully,” a film by Lee Hirsch, documents the growing epidemic of bullying. According to the film’s creators, over 13 million America kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by American youth. The documentary follows five kids and their families over the 2009-10 school year and shares their harrowing tales with viewers that are rife with ostracism, cyberbullying and, in some cases, suicide.

The film is scheduled for release in select theaters on March 30, and while the film’s distributor, The Weinstein Company, reportedly planned to screen the film in middle and high schools across America, that will now change thanks to its “R” rating. And, according to reports, the MPAA ruled by just one vote that “Bully” deserves an R-rating because of “language.”

From the recent school shooting that took place at an Ohio high school this week –where bullying might have been a motivator of the shooter – to the ongoing case against Dharun Ravi, the roommate of Tyler Clementi, a boy who committed suicide after cyberbullying, one thing is coming through loud and clear: the message to students about the golden rule is simply not strong enough.

And from the assemblies to guidance meetings to lectures to films, we still have a ways to go to cure this epidemic.

To rate “Bully” as “R” so that those who need to see the film most can’t is a travesty. The MPAA might rule that the film is inappropriate for children and should not be seen by younger audiences but one could say the same thing about bullying; it’s inappropriate for children and should not be seen but that doesn’t mean we don’t see it.  Accordingly, the under 17 group is the very group that should be forced to uncomfortably watch the film. That is the group that should feel that pit in their stomachs when they see what can happen in real life – not Hollywood – when kids are tormented. And that is the group that should get pre-screen showing of the film.

Good for you, Katy. I hope your campaign gets that film brought down to a PG-13 rating, and I know I’ll be supporting your efforts.

Feedback for 'Bully' Message Shouldn't Go Unheard


I think that the more our kids have facebook and other sites such as that the more we will see bullying get out of hand for the fact that parents cannot look at their kids 24/7 and with the internet it makes sending something out to 'the whole school' as easy as a click of a button and that will forever stay online.. It is hard to police out kids but as parents we need to!

Regarding the Bully project movie - great message.

However, to make the movie with R rating and then insist the rating system make an exception because of the content of the message being so important is in of itself a form of bullying. unbelievable and an arrogant attitude. This message can be communicated within the the rating rules and the message can be preserved. They just don't want to - unbelievable attitude - what a shame. Shame on you Lee Hirsh.

Leave a comment