Philadelphia officials, parents and students are reacting to the controversy surrounding a new documentary.
The movie “Bully” covers the issue of teen bullying as well as the pain and danger the young victims face. Yet it’s not its subject matter drawing controversy but rather its rating. The Motion Picture Association of America has placed an R-rating on the film because of language. The f-word is used five times in the two hour movie, according to the MPAA.
“I have a daughter that is bullied going to school and we had to pull her out of school,” said Mike Hickey of Deptford, New Jersey. “I believe the rating should be dropped.”
Supporters of the film, which opens nationwide on March 30, created facebook pages and on line petitions dedicated to dropping the rating to PG-13 so that more children can watch the movie without having to be supervised by a parent.
“Hopefully every middle school kid or kids who are going into high school will see the film,” said Philadelphia Councilman Jim Kenney.
Kenney wrote a letter urging the MPAA to drop the rating. He also reached out to the film’s creators and is leading an effort to have 10,000 Philadelphia students view the movie before the school year ends. The nationwide goal is one million.
“This is why the R-rating is so frustrating,” said Kenney.
The MPAA responded to the controversy in a written statement to NBC10:
The MPAA agrees…that Bully can serve as a vehicle for such important discussions…The rating simply conveys to parents that a film has elements strong enough to require careful consideration before allowing their children to view it.
Parents however say the language in the film isn’t a big enough deal to warrant the rating.
“The F-word is used a lot of places,” said Tayshawn Layton of Philadelphia. “You got to teach your kids not to use it.”
“Five times in a two hour movie? I don’t think it’s really going to matter,” said Hickey.
The MPAA also told NBC10 that if the film’s creators agree to edit out or cover the usage of the F-word then the rating could be dropped to PG-13. They also say the filmmakers could release the movie unrated. The talks are still ongoing.