GOOD

Overrated: Bully's R Rating Should Mean the End of the MPAA

Teenagers will be barred from watching a documentary about what teenagers actually say and do to one another.


The new documentary Bully takes on the issue of harassment in American high schools, depicting real scenes of school bus torture, schoolyard violence, administrative indifference, and the tragic fallout in explicit detail. Now, the Motion Picture Association of America has made sure that most American high school students won't be able to see the film: It's slapped the doc with an R rating.

That's a problem for producer Harvey Weinstein, who had lobbied for a PG-13 label so he could tour the film in middle and high schools. The MPAA admitted that the documentary "can serve as a vehicle" for student discussion around bullying, but insisted that the film nevertheless "contains certain language" that requires it be rated R. The result? Teenagers will be barred from watching a documentary about what teenagers actually say and do to one another.


Weinstein is fighting back. He's threatened to withdraw The Weinstein Company, which produces films like My Week With Marilyn and The Artist, from the MPAA's rating system altogether. MPAA ratings are voluntary, but filmmakers fear that releasing an unrated film spells box office failure, as many movie theaters won't show films that don't undergo the regulatory process. "I have been through many of these appeals, but this one ... is a huge blow to me personally," Weinstein said. He's not alone. Alex Libby, one of the bullied teens featured in the film, also "gave an impassioned plea and eloquently defended the need for kids to be able to see this movie on their own, not with their parents, because that is the only way to truly make a change."

This is not the first time the MPAA has inspired a filmmaker's righteous indignation. Independent filmmaker Heather Ferreira has advised her fellow filmmakers to offer their movies for download on the internet instead of through the studio system to sidestep the MPAA's censorship. In the unrated 2006 documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Boys Don't Cry's Kimberly Pierce, and Requiem for a Dream's Darren Aronofsky all railed against the MPAA's puritanical and often arbitrary rating system. The documentary exposed the MPAA's cadre of untrained anonymous raters, who are meant to represent regular American parents, but are really free to impose their own backwards values on the rest of the population. These untouchable judges rate gay sex as more explicit than straight sex, view sexual content and crass language as more troubling than horrific violence, are directly influenced by members of the clergy and are not necessarily even parents of teens.

But of course, Bully is a much different film than South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. The documentary is the first unambiguously feel-good film in recent memory to take a stand against the MPAA's rating system, and to do so in the name of children's welfare, not just artistic freedom. Because Bully is a film that parents will actually want their children to see, it stands a chance to make a serious dent in the MPAA's stranglehold over movie ratings.

I hope Harvey Weinstein does withdraw from the MPAA, and that other major film producers join him. The MPAA's reign rests on the financial fears of filmmakers, but if big Hollywood producers refuse to play along, it would become bad business for movie theaters to not show unrated films. Parents are right to be concerned about the content their children are watching. What they don't need is an anonymous lobby of other parents to decide what's good and bad for them—especially if it means stopping their kids from watching a film as important as this.

Bully screenshot via YouTube

Articles
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

Keep Reading Show less

When former Pittsburgh Steelers' center Mike Webster committed suicide in 2002, his death began to raise awareness of the brain damage experienced by NFL football players. A 2017 study found that 99% of deceased NFL players had a degenerative brain disease known as CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Only one out of 111 former football players had no sign of CTE. It turns out, some of the risks of traumatic brain injury experienced by heavily padded adults playing at a professional level also exist for kids with developing brains playing at a recreational level. The dangers might not be as intense as what the adults go through, but it can have some major life-long consequences.

A new PSA put out by the Concussion Legacy Foundation raises awareness of the dangers of tackle football on developing brains, comparing it to smoking. "Tackle football is like smoking. The younger I start, the longer I am exposed to danger. You wouldn't let me smoke. When should I start tackling?" a child's voice can be heard saying in the PSA as a mother lights up a cigarette for her young son.

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics

October is domestic violence awareness month and when most people think of domestic violence, they imagine mostly female victims. However, abuse of men happens as well – in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. But some are taking it upon themselves to change all that.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture