The Motion Picture Association of America has a history of questionable practices when it comes to their content rating of film releases. And Harvey Weinstein has a history of going up against the organization when he doesn’t agree with harsh ratings they’ve slapped on Weinstein movies. In October of 2010, his indie project Blue Valentine got slapped with an NC-17 rating due to an oral sex scene, and Harvey successfully appealed the decision, arguing that nothing in the film was exploitative or unessential, and that the rating would be financially harming a great work of art if it was left to stand.
It looks like it’s time for round 2 in the Weinstein/MPAA war. This time the fight is over a documentary called Bully, which takes a look at schoolyard bullying in the United States. The MPAA has deemed that the film should be R-rated due to “some language,” and Weinstein is pissed because a restrictive rating would prohibit the youths who need to see a movie like this most from being able to buy a ticket.
Director Lee Hirsch said of the controversy, “I made Bully for kids to see—the bullies as well as the bullied. We have to change hearts and minds in order to stop this epidemic, which has scarred countless lives and driven many children to suicide. To capture the stark reality of bullying, we had to capture the way kids act and speak in their everyday lives—and the fact is that kids use profanity.” Damn right. Hirsch continued, “It is heartbreaking that the MPAA, in adhering to a strict limit on certain words, would end up keeping this film from those who need to see it most.”
The appeals hearing will be happening on February 23rd, and both Harvey Weinstein and one of the bullied kids from the film, Alex Libby, are said to be attending. Hirsch said of his young subject, “No one could make this case more powerfully than Alex Libby, and I am so proud and honored that he is stepping forward to make a personal appeal.”
That Weinstein was able to successfully make a case for Blue Valentine leads me to believe that Bully will be able to get its R-rating revoked, but any way you look at this situation, I’d say that giving a movie that speaks out about bullying an R-rating because there’s some nasty language in it is just more proof that the MPAA must die. [THR]