Harvey Weinstein has landed some powerful new allies in his fight against the MPAA over the rating of Lee Hirsch’s documentary Bully – members of the US Congress.
THR reports that 20 members of the governing body have signed the petition to have the board amend its rating of the film in hopes of getting it released with a PG-13 mark so it’s accessible to the audience who needs to see it the most: teenagers.
Representative Mike Honda writes “We are writing to express our sincere disappointment in the MPAA’s decision to issue an ‘R’ rating for the soon-to-be-released documentary Bully. This important project shows the real life anguish of many teenagers in this country who are tormented, harassed, and bullied by their peers. This truth should be shared with as wide an audience as is appropriate and possible. We believe an R-rating excludes the very audience for whom this film is desperately important.”
The Congressmen join over 275,000 other signees on a petition started by high school student Katy Butler. The movement to change the rating has garnered national attention thanks to public support from talk show host Ellen Degeneres and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
The Congressional letter is the latest salvo in what has turned into a contentious debate between Weinstein and the MPAA – with the studio threatening to pull out of the ratings board if the decision to slap the film with a restrictive R-rating isn’t changed, and the National Association of Theater Owners promising to impose NC-17 sanctions on Weinstein's films if he follows through with his plan. Hopefully, all of that can be avoided and cooler heads will prevail, but as of now, Bully is still sporting an R rating.