Surprise, Surprise: Bully Nabs PG-13 Without Trimming Offensive Scene

You don't need me to explain to you how Harvey Weinstein is half huckster-genius and half megalomaniac witch doctor (even though I have, again and again and again). Find all the evidence you need in Thursday's announcement that Bully — the "controversial" documentary chronicling America's bullying epidemic — would finally receive the PG-13 rating it so conspicuously sought from the MPAA. The best part: It won't even have to trim the offending scene at the heart of all the publicity to date. Surprise! Suckers.

The MPAA won't even insist on the customary 90-day window between R- and PG-13-rated versions. Great! No one will ever accuse them of making it up as they go along ever again! From a Weinstein Company press release:

The Weinstein Company aided by the guidance and consultation from attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, announced today that the MPAA has lowered the R rating, given for some language, for BULLY to a PG-13 in time for the film’s April 13th expansion to 55 markets. The scene that has been at the forefront of the battle with the MPAA, the intense scene in the film that shows teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus, has been left fully intact and unedited. BULLY director Lee Hirsch felt editing the scene was not an option, and subsequently refused to do so, since it is too important to the truth and integrity behind the film. Also a victory is the exception the MPAA made by allowing the film to be released with the new rating before 90 days, which is the length of time their policy states a film must wait to be in theaters after a rating change to avoid confusion or inconvenience for moviegoers.

This decision by the MPAA is a huge victory for the parents, educators, lawmakers, and most importantly, children, everywhere who have been fighting for months for the appropriate PG-13 rating without cutting some of the most sensitive moments. Three uses of the ‘F word’ were removed from other scenes, which ultimately persuaded the MPAA to lower the rating. Hirsch made the documentary with the intent to give an uncensored, real-life portrayal of what 13 million children suffer through every year.

The new rating, which came about with the great support from MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, grants the schools, organizations and cities all around the country who are lined up and ready to screen BULLY, including the National Education Association and the Cincinnati School District, the opportunity to share this educational tool with their children.

Of course, the latter organizations always had that option, but what good is accepting parental permission slips without the prospect of getting the full ticket price as a result?

Sigh. I know this is a "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown" moment if ever there was one, but to come to work every day and see so many otherwise smart, savvy and skeptical industry observers and pundits just pass along such cynical, craven marketing spin for months without ever communicating Harvey's obvious calculations to their readers — to treat the Bully ratings saga as a legitimate cause — is a just a total failure. It's a total embarrassment. Taking nothing away from the film or the consequences of bullying, what kind of a complacent creep do you have to be to smilingly shovel so much of these people's bullshit? Or to keep taking the MPAA at its grotesque face value? Or to accept some bullied teenager(s) carrying the banner for a movie on behalf of the most notorious bully of the modern Hollywood era? Or to pull a paycheck every day for publicizing such bald-faced lies? Puke.

Anyway, the entertainment industrial complex wins again. Whatever. So much for Good Friday.

[via Deadline]

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  • Patrick Hallstein / McEvoy-Halston says:

    Re: I know this is a "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown" moment if ever there was one, but to come to work every day and see so many otherwise smart, savvy and skeptical industry observers and pundits just pass along ...

    The smart, savvy and skeptical industry observers likely did notice your marked attempts to show the person they very willingly moved to as foremost a bully himself. You stood out, defacto lampooned the sincerity of their efforts -- in too true a fashion not to catch some ears -- and would probably be wise not to think your "forget it, it's Chinatown," is going to make them forget all about you.

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      Thanks, Patrick. I mean, does it matter? It's not even about validation, but rather how people propagate mythology under the guises of taste, news and/or perspective. Are we watchdogs or lapdogs?

      Enh, maybe it doesn't matter.

  • Patrick Hallstein says:

    This called for a conversation, and you made sure there was some. It drew me to stop and think -- it mattered to me; and I'm happy in return to offer a bit of validation. Cheers.

    • S.T. VanAirsdale says:

      Thanks! We shall overcome! Actually, we shall not, in all likelihood. But hey. At least its Friday! [Swigs double shot of bourbon]

  • KevyB says:

    Excellent point about the irony of Weinstein being such a bully. I hate to give the man any props, but these fights are actually good for us. Now Bully will be used in the future by other filmmakers trying to get language past the MPAA and they'll have to allow it. Getting language on this side of PG-13 is a major step forward. Now if we could just get the most egregious violence on the other side of it, the MPAA might actually be good for something.

    • AC says:

      There was already a documentary several years ago, the name escapes me now, that was rated PG-13 with several dozen uses of the "f-word." If precedent meant anything, they would have used that and gotten their rating in minutes.

  • As usual you did an great job evaluating the problem and finding the right answer. I will stay tuned for more releases on your site.

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