Bullying is a serious problem, or at least it’s now being recognized as one. But it’s also a layered issue that can’t simply be summed up by watching the suffering of kids and the gross negligence of school administrators. Lee Hirsch’s documentary Bully can never get beyond observing the problem, and the film’s shapeless structure obfuscates more than it illuminates. Hirsch finds a compelling central figure, but he’s constantly distracted by the plight of other bullied kids, and yet he’s unwilling to explore the details and questions raised by those kids’ situation. Worst of all, Bully relies on highly questionable manipulation in order to make its point, but it has no point when it comes to stopping bulling. It just has a website.
After weeks of hemming and hawing over the R-rating stamped to the documentary, Bully has now been granted a PG-13 rating by the MPAA. Though director Lee Hirsch wasn’t forced to cut a crucial scene in order to bring the rating down, he did remove three uses of the word “fuck” from the film in order to obtain the school-friendly PG-13. The crucial scene in question involved a teen being bullied and harassed on a school bus and is said to be one of the major concerns the MPAA had with the film, but the new version of the doc will retain the entire scene uncut. The MPAA is famously backwards when it comes to their ratings system, and many contend that Bully was in no way worthy of the R rating all along.
It’s more than a little messed up that movies like This Means War are given a PG-13, but an important documentary that could have a real impact on kids across the country is deemed “inappropriate” for those under the age of 17. Nevertheless, with the new rating Bully should now be able to reach those that it was intended to help free of that filthy, harmful, terrible f-word. Hit the jump to read the press release and to watch the powerful trailer.
It is estimated that 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. The new documentary Bully puts a human face on that frightening statistic, with an unflinching look at just how deeply bullying effects kids and their families. By telling the stories of 12-year-old Alex from Iowa, 16-year-old Kelby from Oklahoma, 14-year-old Ja’Meya from Mississippi, and the families of 17-year-old Tyler Long and 11-year-old Ty Smalley, who both lost their sons to suicide after relentless bullying, the film captures a growing movement to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.
During this recent exclusive interview with Collider, filmmaker Lee Hirsch talked about how the idea for this documentary developed out of having been bullied as a kid, wanting to give a voice to kids who are suffering, the process for deciding which kids and families to focus on in the film, what he found most upsetting about the problem of bullying today, how the administrators feel about their portrayal, how frustrating and upsetting the decision for the R rating is, and the goal of having one million kids see the film in theaters. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
In an attempt to get around the MPAA’s nearsighted “R” rating for Lee Hirsch and Alicia Dwyer’s award-winning documentary, Bully, The Weinstein Company has announced that they will release the film as Unrated. Bully, which investigates the prevalence of bullying in our nation’s schools, was hit with an “R” rating after an appeal by TWC came up one vote shy, regardless of a petition signed by nearly 500,000 individuals who felt that the rating would limit kids’ ability to see the film.
The reason for the rating? A few instances of foul language, something that occurs in hallways and school buses on a daily basis. By restricting the film to kids who would need a parent or guardian present to attend, the MPAA has become the bully themselves. Unfortunately, many theaters won’t show unrated films, which now precludes both the children and their parents from being able to see the film at all. At least Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC theaters, has taken a stand in support of the film, saying that his theaters will show it regardless of the unrated status. Hit the jump to see what he and the filmmakers had to say. Bully opens March 30th.
The first trailer for Emmy-award winning director Lee Hirsch’s documentary Bully has gone online. The film tackles the increasingly troubling issue of bullying in American schools, and this trailer is kind of heartbreaking. In addition to examining the subject at hand, Bully tells the story of multiple parents whose children have committed suicide as a result of bullying. There’s no doubt that this is a serious issue affecting a number of kids of all ages, and the problem has only grown worse with the advent of social media and the anonymity of the internet. Judging from the trailer, the film seems to focus on the act of physical and verbal bullying in schools and on the bus rides home, but I hope Hirsch also takes a look at cyber bullying as the web can be one of the cruelest tools at a bully’s disposal. The film was actually given an R rating by the MPAA for “some language”, but The Weinstein Company plans to appeal the rating in order to make the film accessible to those that will benefit from it the most: kids.
Hit the jump to watch the trailer. Bully opens March 30th.