Bullying is an issue that has been in the news heavily lately and a topic that has been on the minds of many parents and children.
The Weinstein Company and Lee Hirsch have made a film, Bully, showcasing the issue, but it hasn't been without controversy along the way. The biggest issue so far with Bully has been the rating of the movie. When Bully was first rated it was given an R rating, mainly because of the use of the word F**k in the movie by the teenagers. The problem with the R rating is that fewer children will be able to watch the film that has to do with an issue important to young people.
Hirsch showcases the lives of five children and their families that live in urban areas, the Midwest and the Bible belt that have dealt with bullying. The film also deals with the subjects of homosexuality and suicide as they pertain to bullying.
Bully starts out in Georgia with the parents of Tyler Long, a student that commits suicide at the age of 17. It then moves to Iowa and the story of 12-year-old Alex, whose classmates choke and punch him on the school bus in front of Hirsch's camera. Oklahoma is the next place Hirsch visits and shows a 16-year-old gay teen being bullied by classmates and even neighbors and another teen who was a bully and changed his ways and then his best friend killed himself because of bullying. The last place Bully shows is Mississippi where a 14-year-old girl is jailed for taking her mother's gun on the school bus and threatening her tormentors.
Bully also showcases how the schools handle the issue of bullying and how underserved the problem is in some areas.
AMC Theaters has agreed to release Bully this Friday without a rating. That gives children under the age of 17 the opportunity to see the movie with permission. The permission slip is available on AMC's website.
AMC will be presenting Bully...as not rated, AMC said in a statement. Guests younger than 17 can see the film if they are accompanied by a parent or adult guardian or if they present a signed parental permission slip.
However, some groups are upset with Bully not being rated.
This move, regardless of intentions, sets a precedent that threatens to derail the entire ratings system, Parents Television Council head Tim Winter said in a statement. If a distribution company can simply decide to operate outside of the ratings system in a case like Bully, nothing would prevent future filmmakers from doing precisely the same thing, with potentially much more problematic material.