On the 'Bully' Ratings Controversy: Harvey Weinstein Should Be Going to Schools, Not the MPAA

On the 'Bully' Ratings Controversy: Harvey Weinstein Should Be Going to Schools, Not the MPAA

Feb 24, 2012

The other day we clued you into a little ratings controversy as it pertains to the upcoming documentary Bully, which tracks the ongoing bullying epidemic spreading from school to school across the United States. Once again Harvey Weinstein -- who's appealed MPAA ratings before (and won) -- was front and center, attempting to get the MPAA to reverse their R rating (for "some language") and switch it to a PG-13 so that the film will be more accessible to young kids. Yesterday the MPAA upheld their rating, much to the chagrin of Harvey Weinstein, who immediately released a statement threatening to take a leave of absence from the MPAA. Meanwhile, the MPAA shot back with their own statement, defending their job and responsibility to assign ratings to movies based on the content found within those movies, no matter how important the subject may be.

Putting aside the fact that the MPAA is a broken system that favors the big studios (among other things), is this really the right fight for Harvey Weinstein? Is he really that naive to think that lowering the rating on an unknown documentary is going to cause an influx of kids to meet up with their friends for an afternoon of touch football, pizza and a documentary on bullying? No, it's not. Just like the PG-13 rating for The King's Speech didn't immediately inspire teens from across the country to make a mad dash to their local theater to see what all the buzz was about.

No, this is a fight Weinstein should be taking to our schools, not our movie theaters. That's where kids are going to see this film. As someone who has his own school-age children, Weinstein should be fully aware that his best chance at getting kids to see this -- if that's what he cares about most -- is if he's able to make this film part of the required curriculum in as many schools as possible, not to mention a VOD rollout that puts it in as many living rooms as possible in the hopes parents can extend the conversation to their homes as well. Instead of turning around and trying to bully the MPAA into reversing their decision on the bullying doc by threatening to leave the organization, the movie mogul should cut his losses, bleep out enough of the profanity to get his PG-13, and take this battle to the classroom.

That's where this film will have its largest impact. That's where it will become a success story.

Bully arrives in theaters on March 30th.

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