Depending on your point of view, the Weinstein Co. either threw in the towel or stood defiant today in its media campaign to persuade the MPAA to rescind its R rating of Lee Hirsch‘s Bully, a moving doc about kids who get picked on and pushed around. The company will release Bully without any rating at all. They’re basically saying “we’ve gotten enough publicity ouf of this ratings battle thing, and we don’t think that opening without a rating will matter all that much as not that many people pay to see docs in theatres anyway. So eff the MPAA…y’know? Who needs ‘em? They’re dancing to medieval Santorum values anyway.”
Of course, nobody wants to hear about the all-but-incontestable fact that the whole “protect the f-bomb” Bully mantra was total smoke from the start.
After seeing Bully I wrote a 3.15 piece called “Bully Doesn’t Need F-Bombs.” I explained that Hirsch, the Weinstein Co., Change.org and Bully petition girl Katy Butler “have been trying to get the MPAA to change its R rating to a PG-13, claiming that the f-bombs are necessary for the integrity of the film because they represent the hateful attitudes directed at the victims of bullying in the film. Or something like that. The Bully team is saying it’s important for school-age kids to see the film but they won’t be allowed to if it’s rated R, hence the ratings battle.
“But the whole issue — and I’m saying this with sincere admiration and respect for Hirsch and the film, which is very well done and quite touching — is utter bullshit because f-bombs are meaningless in the context of what’s shown and the flow of the film and the music and the abundant feelings. This is a doc about cruelty, and the measure of that is in the stories of the victims (two of whom have taken their own lives) and in their faces in photographs and home videos, and especially in the faces and hearts of their parents and brothers and sisters.
“Hearing an f-bomb or three or five is absolutely meaningless in the midst of all this tragedy and grief.
“I myself heard only one f-bomb, and a friend/colleague who sat next to me at the screening said he heard only one also. I checked with a Weinstein Co. rep after the screening and was told that the film contains six of them.
“Honestly and truly I didn’t hear the other five and even if I had (or if my colleague had) it wouldn’t matter. The f-bombs are said by kids during some school bus footage, but the sound is from an iPhone or flipcam video so the aural quality is lousy. It doesn’t matter anyway. This film is about stopping cruelty and raising the consciousness of parents who are too stupid or bull-headed to understand that they need to make sure that their kids don’t make other kids miserable by constantly harassing and teasing and slapping them around.”