Bully, a documentary directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, opened in select theaters with a controversial R rating on March 30. With the backing of celebrities, some of whom include Ellen DeGeneres, Johnny Depp and Drew Brees, journalists and the media, and public turnout for online petitions at The Bully Project, Bully now boasts a PG-13 rating and will open across the country on April 13.
The Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, originally assigned the R rating because of the film’s violent content and offensive language. A combination of public outcry and compromise resulted in the film’s new PG-13 rating. Over 500,000 people signed the petition requesting the lower rating, prompting the MPAA to temporarily declare the film “Unrated” while it renegotiated with the film’s producers.
Upon Bully’s first appeal to the MPAA, Hirsch refused to edit any of the profanity because he didn’t want to sugarcoat the reality of the bully behavior he recorded while visiting schools. After second consideration, Hirsch agreed to remove three instances of the “F-word” on the condition that a particularly intense scene where 15-year-old Alex Libby is bullied on a school bus remain.
According to The Bully Project, “over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation.” Producers felt so strongly that this message deserves widespread attention that they are rejoicing over their big victories.
Hirsch released a public statement via email to all website petitioners who supported the request that the MPAA lower the rating. He expressed his excitement that, “Now every teen in America will have access to this film.”
Visitors to Bully’s website could also sign a petition to bring the film to more cities than New York and Los Angeles. Here’s what Hirsch said to the thousands of petitioners who clicked “demand it” and contributed to Bully’s upcoming release in most theaters: “This decision means Bully will now reach the kids, schools, and organizations around the country that need to see it most.”
To thank you for your activism and for “making a real difference,” The Bully Project is offering group tickets at a discount.
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