About this Bully Situation
Allow me if you will, to throw my fresh bait, into a already large bubbling pond. If you have been following modern film blogging for the past few weeks (lord help you) you probably have become aware of the situation involving the documentary “Bully” and its ongoing troubles with the MPAA. Usually when I post a piece about some topic, I can includes links to various blogs that are discussing it, but in the case of “Bully’ i’m facing an embarrassment of riches. Almost every film site/art and culture resource on the web has at least one or two running commentaries going on about the film “Bully” and its MPAA troubles. The trouble being that the MPAA gave this “supposedly” very raw and real look at bullying a very raw and real R rating. This did not sit well with the Weinstein brothers, the famous film producers who have taken on this project as part of their bleeding heart film division. Apparently, and this was big news to me, the Weinstein brothers care very deeply about the youth of America. They have a problem with this R rating because it means that a child will not be able to see this film without the accompaniment of a parent. They feel that there is a “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”, and since the MPAA has rated the film R, the Weinstein brothers have taken a stand against the organization and decided to release the film without their approval. Part of their initiative involves asking “celebrities and personalities worldwide, from Lady Gaga (who has a foundation of her own) to the Duchess of Cambridge (who was a victim of bullying and donated wedding proceeds) to First Lady Michelle Obama (whose foundation has reached out to us as well), to take a stand with me in eradicating bullying and getting the youth into see this movie without restriction.”
Now, I’ve been following this saga for the last few weeks, and I just want to take a step back and reassess the current situation, because nobody seems to be asking some very obvious questions. Such as;
1. Why all this commotion over a film that may by all definitions stink. I understand that some people may hold positive beliefs about this films outlooks but you have a ongoing war of sorts happening about a film that may or may not live up to the hype. There are a lot of people being overly critical of the MPAA and of the Weinstein about the films content, but I just wonder how many of them have actually seen the film.
2. I alluded to this earlier in the article, but just to reiterate; When exactly did the children of America become the main concern of the Weinstein? I also don’t want to seem negative or overly critical but I kind of bristle at the conceit that just because the Weinstein bros suddenly find bullying distasteful, they can make a film that succeeds in finally “eradicating” it.
3. If the Weinstein’s care so much about the youth of America, why are they distributing this film at all? “Oh sure we want every kid to see this film so bullying can come to an end, but only if you kids can get eight bucks from your parents, other than that you’re out of luck”. Why not just release the film as a teaching tool to schools? Why all the Hollywood fanfare around it?
4. What exactly is the problem with parents getting a deeper understanding about bullying? Last time I checked, bullying can affect an entire household, and not just the kid. What good is it if a kid goes to see a film about bullying all alone? Who’s the first person that is called when something goes wrong at school; the parents. Who is the person who has to take care of the bullied child; the parents. Since bullying has such a widespread effect, beyond the walls of a school, and into the homes of children, why should the parents be excluded from seeing a film that is supposed to be the definitive statement about the topic of bullying? Perhaps the parents could benefit from a little understanding about bullying as well.
I have many more question, but at the risk of seeming overly critical, i’ll keep my remaining reservations to myself. I understand the Weinstein’s wanting to help the children of America. We should all want to look out for the younger generation, and make sure they don’t have to go into a warzone everytime they get on the big yellow bus in the morning. Its just that……..something about the Weinstein’s endeavors seems a bit off. Its like when George Lucas suddenly became a trailblazer for civil rights at the cinema, proclaiming the injustices that keep African American’s from headlining mainstream Hollywood films in America. Its not that what was said doesn’t have some truth to it. Its the person who is saying that is striking a wrong chord. You ask yourself why this person is all of a sudden so concerned about the subject civil rights or in our case bullying in school. Has it always been a concern of theirs or is it just a convenient bit of timing that a sudden onslaught of social consciousness occurs when they have a money making property to be released? A money making property that just happens to have a bit of social commentary inherent to the central story. As they say all publicity is good publicity. What better way to draw attention to the film than by leading your own righteous crusade against the MPAA? Also it probably wouldn’t hurt having the film be pg-13 since, an R rating is usually the kiss of death for a film, that is if you want your film to have any chance of breaching all demographics and making the maximum amount of money. Not that I don’t empathize with the Weinstein’s argument, that in order for the impact of the film to be great there must be no editing of the material, since bullying is usually not edited occurrence. Although even in its most unedited form, bullying is not always done with crude language and foul gestures. As odd as it seems the Weinstein brothers are giving a very negative stereotype to a very negative enterprise. Just because your cause may be just doesn’t mean you should stereotype and over accentuate the problem. Bullying is an awful enough occurrence without adding any sensationalism to it.
The film as it stands now is rated R. Would it really hurt to just release the film as R? Is it really so hard for a school to obtain permission slips to go see a movie or have it shown in school? I’ve watched many R rated films in school over the years. We were allowed to because the content of the film was deemed acceptable in light of the educational properties afforded by the picture. Why wouldn’t a film as “apparently” social radical and reforming as “Bully”, not be allowed in schools, regardless of its rating? Also, would it really be so bad if parents accompanied their children to see the movie. Don’t they empathize with their children and try to understand their pain and what they are going through to better help them. Is a pg-13 rating gonna stop parents from seeing the film. They’ll see it anyway. It seems the more rationally you look at the hubbub surrounding this picture the more hollow the claims of the Weinstein’s seem. You ask yourself if they really care about the kids or just about having a famous world changing documentary. That is if the movie doesn’t stink.