Bullies Harvey Weinstein and the MPAA Forced to Shake Hands, Re-Edited ‘Bully’ Gets a PG-13 Rating

After weeks and weeks of controversy, manufactured or otherwise, the tumultuous story of The Weinstein Company’s anti-bullying documentary Bully has finally come to a close. For those who haven’t been following all of the hullabaloo, the fun all started when the MPAA ridiculously gave a Lee Hirsch-directed documentary meant to expose the escalating problem of bullying in U.S. schools an R-rating. Even though the movie taught a good lesson, the fact that it used the F word a few too many times deemed it unsuitable for our children’s bruised little ears.

Never one to take a chance at free publicity lying down, the film’s producer Harvey Weinstein made a big stink about how unjust the rating was, and vowed to have it appealed. He did as much, and he even brought one of the bullied kids from the film, Alex Libby, to speak during the appeals process. Nonetheless, the MPAA decided that the rating would stand.

This, of course, led to further outrage on the part of everyone. Weinstein put the film out unrated, the PTC threatened to picket any theaters that would show it, and the MPAA continued to sit behind closed doors and do whatever evil things they do that we don’t know about. The whole situation was a mess, and in some serious need of mediation. Which must have eventually happened, because at some point they re-edited the film, re-submitted it to the MPAA, and it now has a PG-13 rating. Apparently the issue was that they had to drop the audio during three of six uses of the F-word. Wow.

So now, instead of going down the street and giving little Johnny a purple-nurple, Junior can walk into a nice, air-conditioned theater, watch Bully, and learn that his behavior is completely unreasonable. Plus, Harvey Weinstein gets weeks and weeks of free publicity for his movie, which will open on 115 new screens with its new rating next weekend. Everybody wins!

“This was about drawing the line but not being utterly unreasonable,” Hirsch said. “What’s absolutely relevant is the scene that we retained. There was one [obscenity in another scene] I didn’t want to give up. But I didn’t want to hold back all the groups that wanted to see the movie, Boy and Girl Scout groups and school groups, that wouldn’t be able to go if we stayed unrated.”

For their part, the MPAA had the head of their ratings division, Joan Graves, give a quote that said, “In the case of Bully, the ratings system has worked exactly as it is supposed to: Parents have been kept informed of the content of each version of the film, and they have been given the information they need to make movie-going decisions on behalf of their kids.”

Who were the ones acting ridiculous throughout this whole mess? Let’s just cut our losses and say everybody. We’ve just been through weeks of news coverage over a matter of three F-bombs, and I’m sure we’re all exhausted. [24 Frames]

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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