A Michigan teenager has launched an online petition to have the rating for documentary Bully changed to PG-13 from the more prohibitive R, as theater owners threaten to treat it as an NC-17 film.
Katy Butler, a junior at Greenhills High School in Michigan, created the petition on the website Change.org after the Motion Picture Association of America denied an appeal by the Weinstein Company, which is distributing the documentary about bullying, to change the rating to allow it to reach its target audience of young people under 17. "I can't believe the MPAA is blocking American teenagers from seeing a movie that could literally save thousands of lives," says Butler. "I'm speaking out for all those students who suffer every day because of bullying. The MPAA needs to give Bully a PG-13 so the students being bullied, and the bullies themselves, can see this film and schools can show it as well."
Butler says she started the petition because she suffered from bullying herself. "When I was in 7th grade, a few guys came up behind me while putting my books in my locker," she says in a statement. "They called me names and asked me why I even bothered to show my face at school because no one liked me. I ignored them because I was scared of what else they might say and who else they might tell if I stood up to them. When I went to shut my locker, they pushed me against the wall. Then they slammed my locker shut on my hand, breaking my fourth finger. I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing. I didn't know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid."
Meanwhile, website Deadline reports that the head of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) sent a letter to Harvey Weinstein, cochairman of the Weinstein Company, saying NATO has "no choice but to encourage my theater owner members to treat unrated movies from The Weinstein Company in the same manner as they treat unrated movies from anyone else. In most cases, that means enforcement as though the movies were rated NC-17 - where no one under the age of 18 can be admitted even with accompanying parents or guardians."
The Weinstein Company released a statement today saying its sole purpose
for releasing the film is for the purpose of "educating children and
highlighting how bullying has become a national crisis."
The statement reads: "As a
company we have the utmost respect for the National Association of
Theatre Owners, but to suggest that the film Bully could ever be treated
like an NC-17 film is completely unconscionable, not to mention
unreasonable. In light of the
tragedy that occurred yesterday in Ohio, we feel now is the time for the
bullying epidemic to take center stage, we need to demand our community
Sign Butler's petition here. Watch the trailer for Bully, which will be released March 30, below.