The Weinstein Company has announced that Bully, the award-winning documentary about the epidemic of school bullying in the United States, will open in theaters on March 30 as “unrated.” Controversy has been swirling around the movie ever since the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave it an “R” rating because of some brief foul language. Nearly 500,000 people signed an online petition at Change.org demanding that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) remove the “R” rating.
“I am happy Bully will maintain its authenticity and will be an accurate portrayal of what thousands of kids experience every day,” said Katy Butler, a bullied high school student from Michigan who was outraged that the MPAA gave Bully an “R” rating by just one vote because of brief language.
Butler, who had her finger broken by bullies in middle school, urged the MPAA to remove the “R” rating from Bully so that middle school and high school students would have a chance to see the movie and its important message.
“The MPAA might not recognize the reality that thousands of bullied kids face each day in school, but nearly 500,000 people around the country, from celebrities to politicians to bullied kids themselves, stepped up to speak out about bullying by signing my petition,” Butler said. “The brief use of vulgar language in this film reflects what so many kids hear each day in school when they’re being bullied. The MPAA said they wouldn’t drop the ‘R’ rating unless this language was removed, but nothing can remove it from the halls and playgrounds of schools where bullied students hear it each day, except education and exposure.”
Lee Hirsch, director of Bully, said that the “unrated” designation for the film will allow the film to portray the real trauma and torment that bullied students experience each day in school.
"The small amount of language in the film that's responsible for the ‘R’ rating is there because it's real. It's what the children who are victims of bullying face on most days,” Hirsch said in a statement put out by The Weinstein Company. “All of our supporters see that, and we're grateful for the support we've received across the board. I know the kids will come, so it's up to the theaters to let them in."
Gerry Lopez, the CEO of AMC Theaters, signed the petition and said he will make sure the movie airs in his theaters.
“AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke,” Lopez said. Other high profile signatories include Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa, Justin Bieber, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Michael Jordan, Demi Lovato, Randy Jackson, and Drew Brees.