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"Bully" director Lee Hirsch talks to press on the red carpet at the film's New York City premiere Tuesday.
Lee Hirsch's documentary Bully had its New York City premiere on Tuesday night. The documentary follows the struggles of five families to endure the effects of relentless bullying on their children. It opens in theaters Friday.

The film has also catapulted a young woman into the national consciousness who doesn't even appear in the film, 17-year-old Katy Butler of Ann Arbor, Michigan. When she learned the film had been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), she started a petition to lobby them to change their mind. She wrote:

I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change -- and, in some cases, save -- their lives. According to the film’s website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?
The last part is particularly key, as schools will not screen R-rated films.

Butler's cause has also earned the praise of many impresarios of politics and entertainment, including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Young activist Katy Butler of Ann Arbor, MI talks to Fox News.
Butler's campaign has snowballed in a really crazy way, uniting Hollywood and DC to say, "WTF?" She has appeared on news programs and the Ellen Degeneres Show, and has been profiled in major newspapers across the country.

I had the chance to ask her a few questions Tuesday night:

Q: You've been on a whirlwind, cross-country media tour, and I hear you're taking meetings on Capital Hill, can you tell us about that?

It's been crazy. I talked to Mike Honda, and Leader Pelosi and Kirsten Gillibrand. And it was absolutely incredible they are starting a bullying caucus to create an anti-bullying law nationally, which is absolutely incredible. [There are currently not one, but two bills introduced to congress that could help address this issue.]

Q: You've gotten so much attention and had so many adventures, and yet, you really haven't gotten what you really wanted—a change in the films rating? Isn't it a little bittersweet?

Yeah, definitely, I talked with the MPAA. I had a meeting with them in LA. And they really didn't want to change the rating unfortunately. But the publicity for the movie has been great, because it's showing kids, hey, there's this great movie out there and your idols Justin Bieber and Demi Lavato are saying, "Go see this movie." So I think a lot of kids definitely will who wouldn't have before.

Q: Do you think there is a chance the MPAA will still change their mind?
I think so. I mean we have the support of over 30 congressman, we have submitted a petition on that has almost a half million signatures. That's a lot of pressure, the MPAA is losing a lot of their reputation.

Is there hope yet for an overturning of the rating? Producers appealed once, and lost by one vote. There does not appear to be a second appeal procedure, but there are provisions for an executive over ruling. The MPAA maintains its standards are objective, not qualitative. In other words, an objective tally of the F-bombs dropped—ironically from the mouths of children—demand they sequester the film from the ears of teenagers. Producers are standing firm they will not remove the offending language.

(Continue reading below the fold)

MPAA President Chris Dodd
(Embajada de EEUU/Wikicommons)
A summit was convened in Washington, DC between interested parties, including activists, the filmmakers, MPAA representatives and lawmakers. Chris Dodd, current president of the MPAA and former senator from Connecticut, sounded intractable saying:
"I’m stuck. If we change the ruling in this case, I’ll have 10 other filmmakers lined up saying they shouldn’t be given the R. And who are we to say why this film should be different than the others?”
Dodd could remember the MPAA is not a representative democracy and, as it answers to no one, can behave as capriciously and arbitrarily as it wishes, as it well-documented doing many times in the past.

The challengers came away unimpressed. Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI) lambasted the MPAA in the Los Angeles Times, citing the easy accessibility the MPAA allows teens to violent movies, such as Hunger Games, which also opens this week, and did not get an R.

“The hypocrisy is that the very movies that contribute to violence can be seen by teenagers because they get a PG-13. And the one film that actually teaches them to respect others is given an R.”
Hunger Games was a sore point brought up at the screening as well. In it, teenagers are tasked with fighting to the death on national TV. It received the coveted PG-13, apparently because producers were scrupulous about making sure no kids spoke profanity while they committed graphic acts of violence on one another.

David Denby, writing in the New Yorker, explores further that "hypocrisy." He suggests teens like "Katy Butler... who had a finger broken by kids when she was in middle school … may understand better than their elders what actually threatens them."

Proposition 8 attorney Ted Olsen speaks with Tom Brokaw
Frustration over the MPAA's decision was a recurrent topic over the evening. While introducing the film, honored guest David Boies, co-counsel of American Foundation for Equal Rights' Proposition 8 constitutional challenge, said:
“How ridiculous and unfair and damaging it is to have a film of this power and importance that is being censored by a rating system that has got simply no rational basis. You can kill kids, you can maim them, you can torture them and still get a ‘PG-13’ rating, but if they say a couple of bad words you blame them."
Boies added, "I hope, for heaven's sake, that they find some rational basis before we have to sue them to revise the rating system."

Rousing applause.

Boies' Prop 8 partner Ted Olsen said, "Do you really want to give them a reason for us not to sue them? We're finding it works pretty well when people sick the two of us on them."

The crowd laughed, and a second, and thunderous round of applause was initiated by none other than famous curmudgeon film producing titan Harvey Weinstein, whose company is distributing the film. Olsen agreed the MPAA's decision was "irrational" and said, "They better shape up, or here we come." The lawsuit threat has caused ripples, including in The Hill, a beltway news outlet.

After the screening, domestic diva Martha Stewart took to Twitter to encourage her followers to sign the Change petition. Anyone familiar with the lore of Stewart, as illustrated by Jerry Oppenheimer's book Just Desserts, or that of Weinstein, as recounted in Peter Biskind's seminal Miramax tome, Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film, knows that "sensitive, people management skills" and "building a supportive work environment" are not often cited as the keys to their respective success. And the bombastic Weinstein, whose public feuds are the stuff of Hollywood legends, has publicly acknowledged there is an aspect of personal atonement that has driven him to throw his weight behind this project.

It seemed a bit ironic that Gucci, one of the most prestigious and costly fashion brands in the business, sponsored the screening, given how often kids are picked on for wearing clothes that insufficiently impress their peers. But if Gucci is onboard with telling the world picking on kids is unfashionable, well, that's an unimpeachable source.

But even the luminous and beloved Meryl Streep described being chased up a tree as a child by her "nemesis" and hit with a stick until she bled. "It was very Lord of the flies," she said.

From left: film subjects Alex Libby and Kelby Johnson; director Lee Hirsch; Alex's mom Jackie Libby;
Kelby's mom, Londa Johnson; Alex's dad, Phillip Libby; producer Cynthia Lowen.
When the film concluded, I was actually really surprised it is rated R. It seemed innocuous. In the question and answer portion, a woman echoed many people's sentiments, by asking, "What part of this was R-rated? I kept waiting for it."

What was surprising to me about the film was how much camera time is devoted to the parents, which is very effective choice by Hirsch.

Speaking with Alex's mom afterward, she agreed that often lost in the conversation is sight of the fact that any child being bullied is someone's son or daughter. The framing adds a special resonance to the film, how the hurt emanates, like ripples on a pond. The film provides a window into the parents' endless frustrations and heartbreak. If parents' one aim in life is to see their children happy and to protect them from harm, it's small wonder Alex's mom cries mournfully, "I feel like such a failure, and on Mother's day."

But the failure to protect Alex isn't hers to own, because it isn't for her lack of trying. She has talked to the schools, the police, other parents.

No parents dream their children will be the school punching bag or a social outcast. Their hearts break, as any parent's would. And yet, they seem to be able to find no avenues for relief or reprieve for their children.

Alex Libby (Lee Hirsch/The Weinstein Company)
The principal in Alex's school comes across as well-meaning, but totally out of her depth in dealing with a problem that seems out of her ability to even comprehend. After Alex is shown being physically assaulted daily on the bus, the principal says she's ridden that bus, and the "kids are as good as gold."

In another segment, she encourages two children to shake hands and make up. When the victim is reluctant to shake hands, the principal chastises him. The child tries in vain to explain he can see through the bully's Eddie Haskell act, and he knows he'll just get picked on once again when the principal isn't around. The principal seems unable to comprehend what the child knows instinctively: just shaking hands in front of the principal will not solve his problem.

It's easy to make this story about the specific individuals, but attempts to substantially address this through protocols and systemic procedures are in their infancy. Educators find themselves in the unenviable position of being psychologist, counselor, disciplinarian and even cop. Many or most may not even be aware of what tools and resources are out there to help them better address these situations.

Director Hirsch was quick to caution the crowd that he respected Alex's school's "bravery" to open its doors to his cameras, saying many other schools turned him away. Alex's school may wish it had too.

The film's website includes this empathic passage among its resources for educators:

BULLY reflects many of the challenges faced by all members of the school community, from bus drivers to teachers to administrators, when it comes to handling bullying. Many of us are still learning how to recognize and effectively respond to bullying in school, online and in our communities. Many school faculty members may not be trained to recognize the range of bullying behaviors, others may not feel equipped to effectively intervene. Some may feel that even if they do intervene, they will not be supported by their administrators. They may think their actions won’t make a difference, particularly in schools where bullying is pervasive or the attitude is “it’s just kids being kids.”
There are resource links for students and parents as well.

The movement to lower the rating to PG-13 represents more than just an effort to sell tickets, but rather, to ensure more eyes see it. Producers speak of school screenings and envision the film as a component in a grander public education movement. There are accompanying materials like educators' guides to creating safe and engaging school environments.

People tend to object to the idea of legislative solutions because they mistakenly believe the solutions are punitive in nature and unduly harsh. But in truth, the federal government has tremendous power to influence policy and encourage schools to incentivize strategies other than the "kids will be kids" approach. Who is better positioned to look at the big picture than the federal government? Who has a better view of how and where the system has failed our children most egregiously? Who can better compile and redistribute the programs that work and encourage their repetition elsewhere? GLSEN has done a great deal of work on this topic, see Bridging the gap in Federal Law (pdf). Educators and lawmakers alike would do well to avail themselves of the help of these activists and advocates. They have assembled an impressive body of research and recommendations on this topic.

And of course public education is not free, and Congress may need to set aside some money to help schools help themselves.

Recently, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice proved key in initiating big changes in one of the most notorious stories of schools failing kids, the Anoka-Hennepin school district of Minnesota. In the wake of 10 teen suicides in two years, the district found itself on the receiving end of a federal civil rights lawsuit, contending it had failed to provide a safe learning environment. The stories of negligence on the part of the administration that surfaced were hair-raising and what attracted the attention of the DOJ and the DOE. The district settled last month after the DOE concluded substantial negligence on their part.

In the post-settlement news conference, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez called the settlement a "comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform that will enhance the district's policies, training and other efforts to ensure that every student ... is free from sex-based harassment."

Anoka-Hennepin isn't a fluke or an outlier action by the administration. The Obama administration has consistently demonstrated a commitment to affirming the rights of kids to a supportive and safe learning environment. This week, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett appeared with Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House LGBT Conference on Safe Schools and Communities at the University of Texas at Arlington, with over 400 teachers, students, parents, community advocates, law enforcement officers and officials, and elected officials. Describing "historic steps" the administration has taken, she said, "President Obama explained it this way: 'If there’s one goal of this conference, it's to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It's not.'"

Valerie Jarrett and Eric Holder (Courtesy White House/University of Texas at Arlington)
Jarrett concluded her keynote address with a story that sounds much like Kelby Johnson's from the film:
So in closing, I would share one more story from a leader who is here today. Because change doesn’t begin in Washington. Change happens because ordinary people do extraordinary things … people like Tempest Cartwright.

Tempest is from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma – she’s 18 years old. When word first got around her high school that she was gay, she lost friends. Some people stopped talking to her at church. Other students called her hurtful words that no young person should ever hear. For a while, Tempest was depressed. But she refused to let bullies ruin her life. As she put it, “Their attitudes and assumptions need to change, not me. If I don’t help that along, who will?

So today, Tempest is the president of her school’s gay-straight alliance – an alliance that has more than quadrupled its membership since she became involved. It’s not easy. In fact, it is hard. When her organization places posters around the school, they often get torn down. But she and other members keep putting them right back up.  And every day, bit by bit, she changes the world around her. As she put it, “When people put me down, it inspires me to stand up.”

Well, young people like Tempest should inspire us all to stand up, and keep standing up, for what is right. To stand up for the safety of our children and neighbors. To stand up for the belief that in America, no one should face bullying, harassment, or violence because of who they are, because that’s not who we are.

I'm guessing a personal "atta-girl!" from the White House will go a long way to empowering Tempest next time her posters get torn down.

Since the film wrapped, the subjects seem to have transitioned to better days. The Libby family reports after moving from Iowa to Oklahoma City, Alex has made friends, and the experience of the film itself seems to brought him out of his shell. His mom Jackie says he enjoys a special connection to director Hirsch. In fact, all the families and Butler seemed particularly close. Kelby Johnson ultimately found school an unbearable environment and her family pulled her out, but has since earned a GED. The Smalley family, whose son Tyler killed himself at 11, busy themselves with a grassroots support network they founded, Stand For The Silent to combat bullying and youth suicide. Roger Friedman has written more on the families in Forbes.

Bully opens in select theaters on Friday, March 30.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The MPAA system is a joke. (58+ / 0-)

    The director Wild Orchid got an X like 4 times and he kept resubmitting without a single frame cut.  He would just put the shot of the love scene in question in a slightly different order.  On the 5th go round, they had seen the scene so many times that it had lost its shock value and they voted for an R.  Every SINGLE image of the first time was still there.  

    Then you have Martin Scorcese who put in a completely gratuitous scene of violence into Casino not because he wanted to include it in the film but b/c he knew that it would stand out as the most violent moment, and then when it got an X, he just agreed to cut that 15 seconds out, they said fine.  He got his R.

    Total joke of a process.  Check out "This Film is Not Yet Rated" on Netflix for a good documentary about this sham from top to bottom.

    "They don't think it be like it is, but it do. " Oscar Gamble, circa 1980

    by Spider Stumbled on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:06:57 AM PDT

    •  Actually, it appears to be on YouTube (9+ / 0-)

      "They don't think it be like it is, but it do. " Oscar Gamble, circa 1980

      by Spider Stumbled on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:11:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •   our popular culture is also a joke. (6+ / 0-)

      I agree 100% that this film should be seen by all young people.   Sadly, the slide into ever more graphic violence and crude,sexist, racist speech has screwed the pooch, as it were.

      There is currently a new standard issue Hollywood film about couples with children that ends with the tender line "fuck the shit out of me".    

      It's time for an adult discussion of where we draw a line.

      ecstatically baffled

      by el vasco on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:19:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  'll bet if there was a campaign (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        el vasco, Matt Z

        to make any film with a single depiction of graphic violence rated R, they would freak out. And there should be. But it would kill the movie industry.

        Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

        by anastasia p on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:57:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I missed your point. Do you mean that films (0+ / 0-)

          without graphic violence would not sell?   If that is what you mean, I must disagree.  Films without graphic violence were the norm until the 1950's and they sold like hotcakes.  The escalation of violence accelerated because it was seen as a way to get notoriety and "broader" audiences.

          ecstatically baffled

          by el vasco on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:04:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure (0+ / 0-)

        ...what this is:

        There is currently a new standard issue Hollywood film about couples with children that ends with the tender line "fuck the shit out of me".
        Is it supposed to be immoral? Or setting a bad example? Or just poor writing?

        I honestly don't understand what you meant with this.

        The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

        by lotusmaglite on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:39:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry for the delay--been away. (0+ / 0-)

          my point was that this is the closing line of a modern " light hearted comedy" about young urban couples.   It speaks for itself and the larger culture.  Is this what we want are children to say to each other?   Possibly you are not depressed by this.  But I am.

          I do appreciate the your response.  Seriously.

          ecstatically baffled

          by el vasco on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 05:26:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Okay (0+ / 0-)

            Thanks for the response. I just wasn't processing it for some reason.

            I suppose I wouldn't show that movie to children, and anyone older yet under a certain level of maturity would need to understand a thing or two about context.

            I haven't seen the movie, but I imagine the line is uttered either in the bedroom or in a situation of private physical intimacy. I know plenty of people with children who talk like that to each other in bed.

            If my children grew up, entered a healthy relationship, and both partners enjoyed talking to each other during intimate moments, I wouldn't have a problem with that. OTOH, if people were talking like that in front of their kids, that would be a different matter.

            Now, when it's in a movie, context is very important (assuming one wants to avoid being gratuitous), much like any adult behavior that could give (especially) younger people the wrong ideas.

            The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

            by lotusmaglite on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 08:27:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I essentially agree with you, (0+ / 0-)

              but-- I have raised children and 30 years ago taught junior high school for one year--the longest year of my life.  What shocked and depressed me during that year was the total immersion of my students, especially the 12 and 13 year old girls, in the media.  They went home and turned on the soaps.  The more "adult" it was, the more they flocked to it.

              The movie I have referred to is aimed at "adult" audiences and is essentially an episode of Friends with fully adult sexual themes and language.  In short, today's 12 and 13 year olds will find a way to see this film and shortly thereafter "fuck the shit out of me" will be the summer's catchphrase amongst the tweeners.   And a good percentage of them will proceed to sexual relationships which are simply, and I think obviously, not healthy for kids of that age.

              If you ever wonder why so many tweens are sexually active, look at the media.  The kids are the collateral damage of an industry interested  in making money and nothing else.

              ecstatically baffled

              by el vasco on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:23:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Agreed for the most part (0+ / 0-)
                If you ever wonder why so many tweens are sexually active, look at the media.  The kids are the collateral damage of an industry interested  in making money and nothing else.
                I completely agree there is an industry that cares not at all the damage they leave in their wake, and children - being more susceptible to their machinations - are casualties.

                What stays me from unloading all the blame on them are two factors: the first is the anti-family corporate strategy of driving down wages and benefits, driving both parents into the workforce and keeping them there ten hours a day, twelve with commutes. This has done more damage to the infamous nuclear family than anything I can think of. It's hard to raise children you never see.

                The second is that we're fairly rare as a culture in demanding a certain, advanced level of "maturity" (in the chronological sense if not the emotional sense; some 35 year-olds are more immature than some 16 year-olds) precede sexual activity. Good or bad, in many other cultures people become active far younger than we are comfortable with. To me, the communications revolution has decimated the boundaries between cultures, which is mostly a good thing, IMHO.

                However, this wider perception of the world encourages youth to covet it, wanting to make their place in it at an earlier age. This is sort of an extension of the phenomenon wherein young women are sexualized at an early age as they rush into womanhood. Clothes, make-up, even lifestyles are mimicked by younger and younger females, and (here's where the a-holes in corporate America come in) they are marketed to with products that feed this urge.

                Similarly, tweens and teens look around them and think, "Well, I couldn't fuck this up any worse than the so-called adults are." They push themselves into "early adulthood", and there is nothing to stop them. In fact, as you have pointed out, they are encouraged to do so. I would not be surprised if child labor laws were attacked very soon as the age of "adulthood" lowers in practical fact whether we desire it or not. To some extent, the attack on child labor has already begun.

                I do go on, don't I? It's a little dizzying, trying to put such complex puzzles together, and it muddies everything. But I've never been able to stop myself from examining a problem from every conceivable angle...

                The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

                by lotusmaglite on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:32:31 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  hey-- a great reply. truly well thought out. (0+ / 0-)

                  and well written--an increasing rarity.  

                  I agree with you, essentially.  I don't place all or most of the blame on commercial media/entertainment, but I do see them as ruthless and uncaring parasites who abuse and hide behind our deep beliefs in freedom of expression.

                  ecstatically baffled

                  by el vasco on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:37:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  See "This film has not been rated yet" (8+ / 0-)

      Kirby Dick did a wonderful documentary, This film has not been rated yet, which described all the secrecy and lack of accountability on the part of the MPAA. It's also a patronage dump for well-connected  politicians as Jack Valenti, former JFK and LBJ spokesman as well as the current MPAA President, former Clinton cabinet secretary Dan Glickman.

    •  Great comment! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Always fun to learn something.

      Barack Obama: So morally bankrupt that he thinks people who tortured other people to death should get a pass. Likes to prosecute whistleblowers and pot smokers, though.

      by expatjourno on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:34:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism, a love story was Rated R (4+ / 0-)

      i had to convince parents it was fine. I still don't know why it is rated R.


      by voracious on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:05:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Didn't the South Park boys (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RoseWeaver, Matt Z

      ...say that every time the MPAA sent their movie back with objections, they would make what was objected to even worse and send it back? And then eventually, they released it in it's much more graphic form and thanked the MPAA for making it so?

      Or is that just one of those Hollywood myths?

      The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

      by lotusmaglite on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:35:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        They actually put in more objectionable content than they even wanted in the film because they knew it would receive an NC-17. They could then cut out the stuff they didn't want, resubmit, and receive an R with the film cut the way they wanted it in the first place.

        Nice... :)

        "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye." - The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

        by RoseWeaver on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:22:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They are worried about language? (35+ / 0-)

    Are they kidding?

    Let them walk around a high school or junior high for a day.

    They won't be able to keep track of how many times the word "fuck" is used in conversation.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time I hear it.  I'd make more than my current salary.


  •  Saw Katy on Ellen (8+ / 0-)

    What an articulate, smart, engaging young woman. I immediately signed her petition. Imho everyone should bring their kids/young adults to see this movie, especially those of us who's kids aren't deemed "popular."

    My hope is that the ultimate bully, Rush Gasbag, stays away from this one.

    Wishing peace to us all.

    "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11

    by parsonsbeach on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:25:23 AM PDT

    •  IMO, it should especially be the parents (10+ / 0-)

      of the popular kids that make sure their kids see the movie. The unpopular kids know the story. It is the other kids who benefit from learning a little humility and empathy.

      And I sincerely believe they can and will learn from it.

      A lot of this is thoughtlessness. But the movie makes clear malicious intent or not, there is real harm.

      "Good God, Lemon! What happened to you in childhood to make you believe people are good?"--Jack Donaghy

      by Scott Wooledge on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:21:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Absolutely Right. Excellent Work! n/t (3+ / 0-)

        "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11

        by parsonsbeach on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:34:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent point (7+ / 0-)

        The learning needs to come to the bullies and their parents.  Others already know full well what is going on.

        Five or six years ago there was a movement, it seemed, to develop an anti-bullying program for schools.  I think our school district used it. I have heard nothing about it for years.

      •  The popular kids know the story too. (9+ / 0-)

        Every teen in the high school knows the story.  They don't really call it "bullying" but "drama" and such.  And they already know the story.

        Those on top of the social pyramid either don't give a fuck or are silently thankful to whatever gods there might be that they aren't the ones being targeted.

        But they aren't ignorant of what's going on.  They're well aware.

        Who's unaware?

        No one.

        Awareness isn't the problem.

        Denial is.

        2.1 million Texans voted Democratic in the 2010 midterms. How many people in YOUR state voted D in 2010?

        by Rick Aucoin on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:03:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, ALL the kids know what's going on. (6+ / 0-)

          However, I would argue that the parents of bullies don't know, or are only vaguely aware.

          Too often it's the victim who gets pulled out of class and separated...and his/her parents are the ones who get called.  This is done with the idea of "protecting" the victim, but...

          The practical effect is to isolate the victim further.

          Imho what should be done is the perpetrators should be the ones pulled out of class, separated and isolated from the group, and their parents should get the calls.  Let it be their parents who have to come to school to address the issue, during working hours...let it be their parents and the perpetrators who have to figure out a way to "integrate" well into the classroom (playground, student social settings, etc.).

          The way most schools deal with bullying is completely backasswards, imho.

          "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

          by Marjmar on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:15:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The parents of bullies. (0+ / 0-)

            Want to find the bullies in your school?

            Look for the kids who's parents you hated when you were a social outcast picked on geek in high school.

            The characteristics tend to be genetic.  Early maturation, physical and social.  Good looks, the confidence that comes from those good looks, the social ease that comes from that confidence.  

            The opposite of the awkward late developing unattractive kid who's fraught with insecurities.  

            Got those traits from the parents, who got them from their parents.

            There's always exceptions, but you go look, if you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to still live in the area you went to high school in, and you and your peers from high school have your own kids in that age group now.

            2.1 million Texans voted Democratic in the 2010 midterms. How many people in YOUR state voted D in 2010?

            by Rick Aucoin on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:20:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  They may be missing (0+ / 0-)

          the part of the story where the kid has to eat in the bathroom while they eat at the cool kid's table.

          They may not see the tears of victim's parents.

          "Good God, Lemon! What happened to you in childhood to make you believe people are good?"--Jack Donaghy

          by Scott Wooledge on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 12:13:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That wasn't completely true (0+ / 0-)

          ...even in my time:

          Those on top of the social pyramid either don't give a fuck or are silently thankful to whatever gods there might be that they aren't the ones being targeted.
          Even back in the bad ol' days, there were plenty of popular kids who did more to stop bulling than any parent, faculty member, or other "adult".

          Yes, it's mostly a "top-down" phenomenon, but let's not brand all the popular kids as bullies or enablers.

          On a side note, today's kids deserve a lot of credit for making this happen. They've managed to push bullying into the public consciousness, despite the blind eye an deaf ear the public has tried to turn to it.

          The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

          by lotusmaglite on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:48:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There were Boy Scouts... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RoseWeaver, Kevskos

            ... and Girl Scouts in my day too.  (say, 35 years ago, more or less, for high school).

            There still are.   And too few, and too ineffective.

            My point stands; none of this is new.  Not the attention being brought to bullying, not the fact that bullying (or "drama") is a pervasive life threatening problem in our public schools, not the fact that it'll be a problem 20 years from now.  

            As long as we put our kids into these artificial social structures, environments which have no parallel in the real world (except maybe prisons), then we'll continue to have this Lord of the Flies crap happening.

            As far as pushing this issue into the public consciousness, the two kids who shot up their class at Columbine High School did that too.  And the dialogue was on bullying for about 2.5 minutes until the media started focusing on Marylin Manson and the NRA convention.  What was that, 20 years ago now?

            2.1 million Texans voted Democratic in the 2010 midterms. How many people in YOUR state voted D in 2010?

            by Rick Aucoin on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:16:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The MPAA rating system is so screwed up (14+ / 0-)

    You can have gratuitous amounts of blood and violence, and as long as the characters don't say "fuck" three times, or once in a sexual context, you get a PG-13 rating.

    A good example of it's absurdity is Planes, Trains and Automobile, which would've likely had a PG rating if it wasn't for the rental car scene. It got an R rating, thanks to a 60 second scene with no violence, no sex, no drug use, but just used the word "fuck" one, err, 18, too many times. And hell, when I was 13, I was saying "fuck" more often than Steve Martin. Many other countries gave it a PG rating.

    "How come when it’s us, it’s an abortion, and when it’s a chicken, it’s an omelette?" - George Carlin

    by yg17 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:25:52 AM PDT

    •  Half-Blood Prince was PG. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scott Wooledge, Matt Z

      This despite there being reanimated corpses, a murder of a major character, and several other near-deaths. The entire plot of the movie is 'oh look, there's a bumbling assassin in Hogwarts and ANYONE could be the next unintended victim who barely survives. ANYONE.' It's PG!

      Compared to Half-Blood Prince, Order of the Phoenix is tame. The enemies are visible, there's one death but it's completely bloodless, and the battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore isn't half as scary as the reanimated corpse bit is. OotP is PG-13.

      Every HP movie without Voldemort on screen as his resurrected self is PG. Every HP movie with him is PG-13. He wasn't in HBP.

      The Noseless One is scary, but he's not THAT scary, not enough to be worthy of apparently being the sole deciding factor on movie ratings.

      Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

      by Cassandra Waites on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 04:30:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ShelterBox diary about kids doing the right thing. (8+ / 0-)

    The opposite of bullying is helping others in need. This something that needs nurturing.

  •  A sig I saved to my quote bag (12+ / 0-)

    With a slight edit

    We're shocked by a naked nipple "F-bomb", but not by naked aggression.

    "White-collar conservatives flashing down the street. Pointing their plastic finger at me."

    by BOHICA on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:33:36 AM PDT

  •  R rating does allow persons under 17 to view (11+ / 0-)

    the movie with a parent.

    Probably a good idea for many parents to see this movie as well as their children, some of whom are the Bullys.

    Maybe they'll "get it" and provide some supervision for their little Monsters.

    Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:34:06 AM PDT

    •  Scrolling down (14+ / 0-)

      until I found a post with my thoughts exactly. If the MPAA does not relent to pressure then the trailer for the movie should be:

      "Take your children to see this".

      Having parents see this may be just as important as having the kids see this, and together at least they'll have something to talk about on the ride home.

      Pretty good plan B, plan A would be getting the MPAA to get the sticks out of their asses.

      I think, Therefore I am, ...A Democrat

      by Patriot4peace on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:42:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Except for gay kids who are not out to parents! (8+ / 0-)

      Some kids are afraid to come out to their parents.  In some cases the parents respond to their child telling them they are gay by tossing them out on the street permanently or by putting them in a mental hospital.  If a child is under 18, they have no say so about whether they are committed as "crazy" in a mental hospital.  There are still a fair number of homophobic mental health "professionals" who will lock a teen up in a mental hospital to "cure" them.

      Such kids need to see this movie.  If they feel unsafe at home and are bullied at school, they have no haven.  An R rating prevents them from going by themselves.  Seeing this movie for such a teen could make the difference between suicide and not.

      •  FWIW, only Kelby is an out gay person (5+ / 0-)

        Alex seems to like girls and is picked on for his appearance. He was born at 26 weeks and appears to have some residual effects, but is a bright, warm kid.

        Two of the boys who comitted suicide before the film was shot were bullied for being "sissies." But they were very young and it isn't clear what their orientation was, if it was yet clear to them.

        Another subject was bullied as "dumb." It isn't clear what made her a target. Probably not LGBT issues, she's "poor," but it isn't clear if that is unusual in her community.

        "Good God, Lemon! What happened to you in childhood to make you believe people are good?"--Jack Donaghy

        by Scott Wooledge on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:28:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was bullied in school (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yaque, Cassandra Waites, Matt Z

          for being fat and not popular with boys -- wasn't called a "lesbian" (though I know there were other girls who were; never knew if they actually were or it was just a way to put them down), probably because I did actually pursue them. This was back in junior high; by high school I found my own circle of outcasts to join and decided the Kool Kidz could go to hell.

          The optimist sees the glass as half-full. The pessimist sees the glass as half-empty. The realist just knows she's thirsty.

          by Cali Scribe on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:57:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No reason needed (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassandra Waites

            I was not "bullied" — I think the word is being used promiscuously to apply to too wide a range of behaviors and minimized true bullying — but I was teased a little and even worse, in the 6th grade, frozen out of my class's entire social circle by a new girl who I guess could be called an incipient bully. Nothing was done to me directly, other than talking in front of me about parties to which I was not invited. I was not called names or attacked. But I did not have another friend in school until I graduated from grade school (8th grade because we didn't have middle schools or junior highs back then).

            There was no particular reason. Like I said, I wasn't called any names. I have no idea why Tonya singled me out along with maybe three or four of the other girls out of 2o or more girls in our class. (The others it was fairly clear why — they were girls who were "slow" or had clear physical defects; one likely had a mild case of Downs Syndrome). I'll bet if I asked Tonya today, 50 years later, she wouldn't know why she picked me out. We actually had dinner together at a class reunion and she has changed a lot.

            Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

            by anastasia p on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:08:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  what a message this sends to everyone (11+ / 0-)

    the f word is worse than the kill word.
    and guns have more rights than people.

    and then when some guy in FL kills a kid for no reason everyone is shocked. Think I would rather have had people in FL just cursing at each other.
    But no, we cant talk to each. Language is a terrible thing.

  •  Excellent diary, Scott. Thank you....nt (7+ / 0-)
  •  Well This is good news for Rush Limbaugh (7+ / 0-)

    he has somebody else to Bully

    Response: If you "got it" you wouldn't be a republican

    by JML9999 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:49:16 AM PDT

  •  Chris Dodd (15+ / 0-)

    is worried about film makers coming to his office complaining about the rating system.

    Get him a WAAAAMbulance. Tough shit dude, real jobs are not as easy as being a fucking Senator you douchebag.

    I think, Therefore I am, ...A Democrat

    by Patriot4peace on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 06:50:53 AM PDT

  •  Great article Scott! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    Makes me want to go see the movie and tell others about it.

    Oh, and thanks for the link to the petition; signed!

  •  Send your complaints to Chris Dodd, Head of MPA (5+ / 0-)

    He was a pompous tool and corporate shill as a Senator, and doubtless hasnt changed. But what the heck, at least it will give him (or his staff) a headache.

  •  Heavy Metal Poisoning (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro, yaque

    Heavy metal poisoning is a seldom talked about link toward bullying. Lead will make children mean and mercury will make them depressed (suicidal).  I would bet dollars to doughnuts that if we did a test of these kids we would find that they are full of poisons. Old lead pipes that need to be replaced, mercury from coal burning power plants ect.  Remember when Bush Jr just raised the acceptable level of poison allowed rather than take steps to purify it? Remember when Obama tried to update water purification systems and was met with hostility?

    •  Uh, nope I doubt it (8+ / 0-)

      Some kids are just plain mean. They learn it from their families who do not reel them in and teach them to mitigate their behavior at all.

      Bullying is the underlying cause of sexism and sexual harassment,  and  gay bashing.

      After all, who is more vulnerable than a child or person who refuses to adhere to prescribed, strict gender roles?

      Bullying is a way of bringing brainy kids down to a lower level.

      It's the nastiest form of hatefulness, and competitive feelings.

      Stay on top by any means possible.

      The inept principle? Not the first one I have seen. Is it really ineptitude if one lacks the will to take effective action?

      •  My bete noir apparently (0+ / 0-)

        came from a dysfunctional, toxic family because both her parents were Holocaust survivors — that is what a classmate told me at a class reunion 40 years later. So what? It's the behavior that needs to be focused on.

        Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

        by anastasia p on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:11:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Some have even suggested (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yaque, elfling

      that the surge in crime from 1960-1992 was due to pollutants, from lead in pipes and gasoline, to mercury-clogged lakes, to rivers on fire, that sort of thing... we didn't start tackling those problems until the '70's, and didn't really get a hold on them until the '80's... after some time for them to take root, crime went back down towards the levels it would have been predicted to be at.  Currently they're at 50-year-lows, and dropping as history predicts it should.

      You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic

      by nominalize on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:45:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We haven't attended any class reunions... (10+ / 0-)

    mostly because my wife hasn't forgiven our classmates for years of bullying. I don't blame her.

    "You don't have the right facts!"~My Tea Party Neighbor

    by Therapy on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:09:42 AM PDT

    •  I have forgiven mine (0+ / 0-)

      although I wasn't "bullied" so much as frozen out of all my class's social activities by a new girl who came into our class. It was a long time ago.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07.

      by anastasia p on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:13:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why not put out two versions. PG-13 and R ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The MPAA ratings aren't made up of sound decisions.  They can be different for two different movies.  

    The producers need to get a list of what parts of the movie gave this the R rating.   I have not seen the movie, but if there are a few changes needed to get this started at pg-13 than go for it, then release the R rated one a few months down the road on DVD.

    What if it's two small things ?

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:12:35 AM PDT

    •  filmmakers say it would dilute (4+ / 0-)

      the impact of the film by erasing the actual bullying.

      And I agree.

      I also can't imagine any teenagers will learn any new words, or think it looks cool to use them.

      "Good God, Lemon! What happened to you in childhood to make you believe people are good?"--Jack Donaghy

      by Scott Wooledge on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:32:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well then. Keep it at R and have less people see (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        OK.  how does zero impact sound?  As in a lot of people not seeing this at all?

        This all or nothing attitude seems like the wrong way to evaluate this.  

        If it was my work, I might actually take the stand and not change a thing.    I understand.

        If the message is so important, and by changing it, you dramatically increase how many people get to see this, it just seems like a good idea to adjust it.  

        These days, you get a short window to show something, and then the next thing is taking it's place.  Why gamble on that short window ?

        " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

        by EarTo44 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:44:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No. Because to change the language these kids (4+ / 0-)

      Use diminishes and disrespects their experience.  The movie is all about the need to respect kids, and believe in them!  Their language proves that their experience is REAL.  This is the way real kids talk.  This is the real experience of real kids every day.  Whitewashing that experience sends the message to kids that we adults won't protect them because we won't recognize the real problem, we will focus on some picayune detail and discount the real problem.
      My son was bullied unmercifully in middle school. The one time he complained to a teacher, he ended up being punished right along with his tormentor because in his emotional frustrated state, he cut loose with the f-bomb right in front of the teacher.  He told the teacher that if someone didn't do something about the bullying, he was gonna fuckin' kill himself.  He got detention!  When I found out I marched into school, demanded a meeting with the principal and the teacher, explained their problem to them, pulled my kid out of that school and told both of them to go fuck themselves.  We homeschooled the kid for the rest of the year.

      •  You said the F word. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm telling.

        I guess I see things with a big picture view.

        More people seeing this film, even with the word Fuck beeped over, would be better.

        You say, less people seeing this film, with every fuck left alone would be better.

        AS for you marching into the principals office and telling him to fuck off, I would have done the same exact thing.  Nice job.

        People tend to let ego ruin things.

        " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

        by EarTo44 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:04:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  By changing the language (7+ / 0-)

          You diminish the impact.  You take an important message that is important that everyone get, and you make the message less important, less impactful.  Why?  To cover up the seriousness of the problem.  Kids are dying!  And you want to let them make the message less powerful by dressing it up in Pollyanna.
          Plus, the demand to change the language is a bullying tactic.  It's the same defense that bullies give every day:  The victim deserved it!
          This film is about mirroring the desperate condition of kids.  It shows us just how desperate the situation is.  It throws a rope to kids drowning in the middle of a torrent of abuse, but because they dislike the language, they want to cut the rope we throw to the kids in half.
          I'm not saying your heart isn't in the right place, but by siding with the people who insist on changing the language, you are siding with the bullies who want to diminish the films impact.  This  complaint about language isn't a complaint about language at all. It's a deliberate attempt to reduce the number of people who see the film, or at least reduce its impact.

          •  I am going to agree with you. Less people : (0+ / 0-)

            I agree with you.  Less people should see this movie, but see the full impact of it.  Even if it's hundreds of thousands of people.   I hope we made the right choice.

            " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

            by EarTo44 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 11:48:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Wow. (8+ / 0-)

    The MPAA really has their priorities wrong. It seems to me they are in the back pocket of the Parents Television Council, an organization founded by a conservative.

    They say it is due to the "bad language", but how many kids haven't heard the word, fuck? Give me a break.

    Great post. :)

  •  Chris Dodd: What can I say about Chris Dodd. (13+ / 0-)

    His excuse that he doesn't want 10 more producers appealing? Exactly how much more arrogant can one be? Never mind right or wrong, never mind the LIVES this film could literally save.

    Chris doesn't want to be inconvenienced.

    This is the pure, distilled, essence of the bureaucratic mindset.

    Barack Obama: So morally bankrupt that he thinks people who tortured other people to death should get a pass. Likes to prosecute whistleblowers and pot smokers, though.

    by expatjourno on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:13:54 AM PDT

    •  This is exactly the message we parents get (5+ / 0-)

      whenget when we complain to school administrators about the bullying our kids have to put up with on a daily basis:  We can't save your kid because then we'd have to save all the kids.  ie, we can't change our process, or change your kid's teacher, or change his schedule to get him away from his tormentors because then we'd have to let all the parents demand changes for their kids and it would be chaos!
      Fundamentally bullying is something that adults allow to happen because it's easier than changing adults behavior and routines.  That makes it adults fault.
      Dodd is simply mirroring that attitude.

    •  Chris Dodd is the errand boy for the studios (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies, 0wn

      He doesn't say anything that is not pre-prepared for mass consumption.

      The most galling thing about Dodd is that he explicitly stated he wouldn't be getting a big lobbyist job after his ridiculous presidential run. No, he got one of the biggest lobbyist jobs available.

      Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

      by Scarce on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:13:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Fuck Chris Dodd (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scott Wooledge, RoseWeaver, Matt Z

      I remember picketing his office back in the 80s when he was a leading advocate for continued military aid to the Salvadoran Death Squad regime.  Since then, I have a hard time thinking of a single example of him not taking the side of powerful entrenched interests over their victims.

      What an embarrassment to the Democratic party he has been and continues to be.

      "Two things that were left out of the bill of rights: the right to leave and the right to change one's mind" --Veronika, in Eustache's La Maman et la putain

      by ed k on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 04:27:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This seems like an important film that teens (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, RoseWeaver

    should be able to see without an R rating. I know I haven't seen it, but this post is pretty convincing.

    My forthcoming book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity will be published in Summer 2012 by Potomac Books.

    by Ian Reifowitz on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:20:25 AM PDT

  •  I spent 20 years working with kids and Teens (9+ / 0-)

    (who are kids, by the way) and I gotta tell ya, school is one of the worst, foul-mouthed places to send your kids.

    I have been wondering what the problem is with rating this film PG-13 is given that MOST of the PG-13 movies I have looked at are often worse, overall, than some FINE FILM that was rated "R".

    What i have learned is what I have read in a number of comments here - that the MPAA is a group of pearl-clutching prudes, who are likely watering down art for the sake of , well, the right to clutch pearls.

    This is a nation with an unpleasant overpopulation of weenies.

    #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:20:35 AM PDT

  •  And good for Jarrett, Holder, and Obama. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    None of them are my favorite people, but they sure got this one right.

    Barack Obama: So morally bankrupt that he thinks people who tortured other people to death should get a pass. Likes to prosecute whistleblowers and pot smokers, though.

    by expatjourno on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:21:04 AM PDT

  •  The filmmakers should add some explosions (9+ / 0-)

    Car chases.
    Nuclear annihilation of a town or two
    Monsters on the rampage
    Zombies (can't forget zombies)
    Blood, guts, and gore.
    A Wilhelm scream or two.

    The MPAA is cool with teens watching all that.  

    end{bitter snark}

    You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic

    by nominalize on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:47:50 AM PDT

  •  I used to get bullied... (6+ / 0-)

    I was kinda skinny (wish that was still true), quiet and wore glasses...

    Anything, like this movie, that might save even one kid from going through what I did should be seen by as many people as possible.

    MPAA: Change the damn rating...

    If ignorance is bliss, why are Republicans always so angry?

    by KCBearcat on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:48:02 AM PDT

    •  Me too. From middle school on... (3+ / 0-)

      When I FINALLY fought back it really slowed down.

      I didn't really experience it in college but by the age 25 I began studying martial arts (Muay Thai and Wing Chun) and as a professional who works with kids I have to say - start your kids early with this.

      It's good for their health, for their development, and most of all, confidence.

      Some of the best money you will spend.

      #occupywallstreet: Although I know the rhythm you'd prefer me dancing to, I'll turn my revolt into style.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:53:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bully's problem is that (7+ / 0-)

    it is an independent film. (at least not a major studio film).  The MPAA is run by the major studios, and they have always judged non-major films more harshly than their own.  

    Time for an independent board, I'd say.

    You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic

    by nominalize on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:49:18 AM PDT

    •  Re; independent v major studio (0+ / 0-)

      Virtually every major director in Hollywood has received an NC-17 rating...

      Or an R v PG-13 as another example.

      Being an independent film isn't really a factor. In fact, many independent filmmakers don't submit their films to the MPAA at all and are still seen widely in theaters, on IFC and other cable stations, on PBS, etc.

      "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye." - The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

      by RoseWeaver on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:43:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Bigger Picture (8+ / 0-)

    I Don't think that the Issue is the Rating of One Movie.

    The Folks that OWN this Country Don't want your Children
    to Learn how to Stand Up to Bullies.

    Standing Up for Themselves Might Become a Habit.

    God Knows, Your Children might start Standing Up for
    themselves when they Become VOTERS.

    That is a Habit that the 1 Percent Don't want Your
    Children to Learn.  EVER.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:51:10 AM PDT

  •  If there was ever "redeeming social significance" (3+ / 0-)

    this film has it.  Incredible that it's being blocked by an arbitrary, outdated bureaucracy - the MPAA.  Dodd should be ashamed for blocking this rare chance for the motion picture industry to do something good for our society.

    Private health insurance: a protection racket without the protection.

    by rustypatina on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:52:05 AM PDT

  •  I was threatened by a bully as a kid. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    I am a tall female w/a very distinctive low voice. The bully was a big, red-headed, male high school drop out w/a gang. I shamed him before his lap dogs by keeping my mouth shut and looking straight ahead as I walked home from school one day. They never bothered me again.

    I give all the credit to my parents. They loved and taught me to stand straight up, and be proud of myself. The comments on here for parents to attend this flick w/their kids are spot on! Take it from one who knows.

    Excellent read for a Sunday morning in east central FL.

    Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

    by orlbucfan on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:53:33 AM PDT

  •  Severely bullied myself. (7+ / 0-)

    In my case, it accelerated into stalking, destruction of property, and ultimately an gang assault which got the police involved.  It wasn't until I got out of my town and into a large university that it finally came to an end.

    The MPAA can go fuck themselves, with their anti-independent-film bias.  These are mean enough times for adults.  The kids need all they help they can get.

  •  Ratings are complete BS. (4+ / 0-)

    Movie reviewers, movie watchers, everyone who's paying attention knows it. Established films from establishment companies routinely get lower ratings than indie films. Clerks was originally rated X.

    The MPAA is kind of like Congress. Old, out of touch, has no kids or if they do, they're grown and gone, and have no idea what ordinary people watch and think is appropriate.

  •  Fuck the MPAA, those shit eaters. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scott Wooledge, Matt Z

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 08:35:36 AM PDT

  •  smh (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueDragon, Scott Wooledge

    I often see tweets with the acronym 'smh' (shaking my head) which always bugged me.

    But today here I sit smh.

    Talk about your unclear on the concept moment. Dodd could simply wave a wand and make this happen. What the hell happened to courage?

    California*, Conneticut, Iowa, Maryland*, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington*. (and District of Columbia) *pending

    by cooper888 on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:35:28 AM PDT

  •  i can't imagine being 15 in today's world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, Matt Z

    it is hard enough to be over sixty.

    i really don't understand what we have created.  a lord of the flies world?

    and hollywood is to blame for a lot of it.

    Donate to Occupy Wall Street here:

    by BlueDragon on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:47:32 AM PDT

  •  Famed Legal Duo David Boies and Ted Olson (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Lend Support to Fight Against MPAA Rating of "BULLY"

    Boies stated, "How ridiculous and unfair and damaging it is to have a film of this power and importance that is being censored by a rating system that has got simply no rational basis. You can kill kids, you can maim them, you can torture them and still get a PG13 rating, but if they say a couple of bad words you blame them ... "

    Sign the Petition at:

    A Good Peasant Is A Silent Peasant - Jesse LaGreca

    by kerplunk on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 09:58:56 AM PDT

  •  Lee Hirsch (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scott Wooledge, Matt Z awesome.

    He directed and filmed our nationally award-winning Local Voices for Obama series with (which ran my "Judgment" ad, remember back then?)  They're still wonderful.  Here's one to freshen your memory:

    Eugene Hedlund (president of TruthandHope and dMedia) told me he sobbed at the end of "Bully" and said he can't wait for me to see it.  

    "The majority of a single vote is as sacred as if unanimous." - Thomas Jefferson

    by cartwrightdale on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:33:57 AM PDT

  •  I was curious to see what the reality-detached (4+ / 0-)

    segment of society thought about this, so I searched out none other than the ringleader of that circus, Brent Bozell:

    (warning - link goes to

    The filmmaker is basing his whole publicity campaign on shock and outrage for receiving an R rating for six uses of the F-bomb, as well as other vulgar threats.
    Actually, the MPAA is single-handedly helping this documentary get millions of dollars in additional free publicity. And guess what, Brent - you and your myriad defenders of hate speech are actually helping.  Thanks!
    What's so disingenuous about this is that Hirsch is insisting that it's cruel for the MPAA to insist on edits of his bullied victims' lives. Hirsch obviously edited months of their lives down to 98 minutes to prepare his film.
    Brent, I thought you were involved in "media" research. Do you not know how this whole story-telling thing works?
    Hirsch's poster girl for this petition is Katy Butler, a 17-year-old lesbian activist, who naturally thinks to limit this film is life-threatening. She laments, "I can't believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change -- and, in some cases, save -- their lives." You've got to love 17-year-old lesbian activists.
    Then it must really dust your muffin that there are so many straight folk on her side. Also too, Brent - you and your organizations seem to have a deep-seated need to "label" things they don't like or understand: "lesbian activist", "liberal lawyer", "liberal celebrities".  Maybe you should take an adult and go see this documentary.
    The MPAA system today is loaded in favor of the filmmakers. If producers feel the MPAA is too harsh with their rating, they can lobby and protest, and often they have won.
    Examples, please.  You have to show your work in this class -- you can't just make it up like you do on your websites.
    But if the viewing public finds a film's rating to be too relaxed, they have no recourse. As the Parents Television Council puts it, "their frustration almost always comes after they have been assaulted with content they were not expecting."
    Which is odd, because almost ever advert I see for a film that has a cautionary rating also has a description of why that rating was given.  For example, "This movie rated "R" for language, some violence, occasional belly button exposure, implied drug use, scenes depicting real life" or whatever.

    Also, there are entire websites dedicated to movie reviews based on the "WWJV" rating system (What Would Jesus View), so it's not like there's no information out available. Besides, the PTC gets a wedgie in its wetsuit whenever there's a stiff breeze, and would outright ban television altogether if they had the chance.  Of course what most folks do - just turn the damn thing off - wouldn't work for them as it would mean a freedom of choice instead of an imposition of their 1750s 1950s values.

    Bozell goes on to say... well.. as usual I don't know what he's trying to say beyond his typical "liberals are involved so that means it's bad" tripe on which he seems to base his entire media "empire"... the same "empire" that started outright lying about Sandra Fluke's testimony two full days before those lies started shooting out of Limbaugh's forward-facing crap hole.

    Bozell may have some valid points buried in there somewhere -- he's right that the "R" rating doesn't "ban kids" but instead requires an adult to accompany them -- but doesn't include the point that most schools wouldn't screen the thing for fear of the backlash caused by those parents not wanting their kids to be "indoctrinated in the bully lifestyle".

    Ultimately, the kids who want to see this are going to be streaming it on their computers within 4 hours of its initial release anyway - so there's nothing a rating system or a "Tipper Sticker" is gonna do to stop it.

    Hypocrisy: the "Fairness Doctrine" of the Right.

    by here4tehbeer on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 10:37:02 AM PDT

  •  Release it unrated... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    They should just release it unrated.  Ignore the MPAA completely.  Play hard ball with them.  

    •  I refer to it as... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RoseWeaver, Matt Z

      I call it George Romero-ing their asses.  Dawn of The Dead made millions whilst being unrated.

      Via Wikipedia:  "In an era before the NC-17 rating was available from the Motion Picture Association of America, the US theatrical cut of the film earned the taboo rating of X from the association because of its graphic violence. Rejecting this rating, Romero and the producers chose to release the film unrated so as to help the film's commercial success.  United Artists eventually agreed to release it domestically in the United States. It premiered in the US in New York City on April 20, 1979."

      •  True... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z

        Yup.  Romero knew what he was doing.  He balked at the MPAA's short sightedness, and released one of the greatest horror films ever made uncut.  And people flocked to it.  

        There were a few more horror films that did that same thing as Romero did (aka releasing the film unrated).  The most notable one was Lucio Fulci's The Gates of Hell, aka The City of the Living Dead.  

        Romero's film is better than Fulci's, though.  

  •  People Responsible for MPAA Ratings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scott Wooledge

    The next time some teenager gets bullied and commits suicide, I wonder if anyone responsible for not allowing this film to be seen by teenagers will have a moment of regret.  Probably not.  But according to Wikipedia, here's a list of people who have some responsibility for making the ratings.  

    MPAA Ratings Board

    According to This Film Is Not Yet Rated, the members of the board as of December 2005[30] were:
     Joan Graves, Chair
     Anthony "Tony" Hey, Senior Rater, 61,
     Scott Young, Senior Rater, 51,
     Joann Yatabe, Senior Rater, 61,
     Matt Ioakimedes, 46,
     Barry Freeman, 45,
     Arleen Bates, 44,
     Joan Worden, 56,
     Howard Fridkin, 47,
     Kori Jones, now deceased

    and the MPAA Appeals Board members:
     Matt Brandt, President, Trans-Lux Theatres
     Pete Cole, Film Buyer, The Movie Experience
     Bruce Corwin, Chairman & CEO, Metropolitan Theatres
     Alan Davy, Film Buyer, Regal Entertainment Group
     Mike Doban, President, Archangelo Entertainment
     Steve Gilula, CEO 20th Century Fox
     Frank Haffar, COO, Maya Cinemas
     John Lodigian, Vice President of Sales, AMC Theatres
     Michael McClellan, Vice President & Film Buyer, Landmark Theatres
     Milton Moritz, CA/NV Chapter President, National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)
     Lew Westenberg, VP of Operations West Coast Division, Loews Cineplex Theatres
     Jonathan Wolf, Director, American Film Market
     Reverend James Wall, United Methodist Minister, National Council of Churches
     Harry Forbes, Representative, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

  •  The King's Speech (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Scott Wooledge, Cassandra Waites

    had the same problem.  It is one of my favorite movies, and the movie's producers begged the MPAA do drop it to PG-13 despite the cursing scene.

    They MPAA refused.  The director refused to remove the scenes.  Rock, hard place, game over.  Rated R.  

    Hollywood life sucks sometimes.  They probably could have made an extra 20 million dollars too.  Alas.

  •  R ratings vs PG 13 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassandra Waites, RoseWeaver, Matt Z

    My 11 year old has been excited all week about the upcoming release of "Hunger Games". This is a hot new PG13 bombshell looking to gross 10's of millions of dollars in its first few weeks.

    Being a hopefully not to old fashioned sort of dad I read the previews of the teen series and was struck by the dark premise.  SO I held my tongue, then went and read the "Parent Content Advisory" on  And came across such gems as :

    For starters ... "24 young men and young women (ranging from ages 12-18) stand on pedestals at the beginning of a competition and await a countdown, when the counter reaches 0 the young people run for a large collection of supplies and attack each other and 12 of them are killed"

    "A young man kills a teen boy by twisting his neck with his bare hands (we see the boy collapse to the ground)."

    From there it goes on to describe lots of implied killing, murder, and violence.  Probably not 1 F Bomb though ... Hence the squeaky clean PG 13 rating.

    I just read it's the 3rd largest grossing weekend opener of all times.  And we'd rather let our kids see this than "Bully".

    Frankly, I'm a little speechless.  There's so many kids living through real life versions of that money making hell - but we discourage that conversation.

  •  Gunnar Palace received PG-13 on appeal (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RoseWeaver, Matt Z

    Rated PG-13 on appeal for strong language throughout, violent situations and some drug references." The documentary was originally given an R rating by the MPAA for its language. However, Tucker asked the MPAA to reconsider, saying that the video shows real life in the army overseas and the importance of the younger audiences to connect and understand what soldiers have to go through. A petition was also started. Considering the combat conditions facing the human subjects of a war documentary, the language, while strong, did not constitute gratuitous profanity. A PG-13 rating was granted on appeal. The documentary contains 42 uses of "fuck" and its derivatives, more than any other PG-13 film.

    While I don't hold Obama in high esteem, that doesn't mean I would say he's the Devil Incarnate and the lessor of evils. He is merely the lessee of evils.

    by xynz on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:52:11 PM PDT

    •  PG 13 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Scott Wooledge, RoseWeaver

      PG 13 was created mainly as a marketing tool- R was too strong and PG was bland, for the younger teens.  But now we have real life that's too scary for younger teens to see?  My 11 year old grew up in the best and worst parts of Michigan.  She's already seen this sort of awful in real life.  

      The documentary you mention brings out an excellent contrast.  The real life of a young combat soldier is something young people need to know about.  "Bully" has issues that are commonly downplayed or denied.  The adults of the MPAA board are denying the violence that actually exist in todays schools.  

      They're conservatives.  By definition they don't like change, and bullying has existed forever.  So why would a conservative want to change that ? At very least, whats the concern in combating it?

  •  And now to make my (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ed k

    usual plug for advocating for workplace protections against workplace bullying.  

    School-age bullies grow up to be workplace bullies, where their impact on their targets is just as devastating as it was when they were in school.

    Workplace Bullying Institute

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 01:55:56 PM PDT

  •  Well, I say it's a good thing!!!1!!!11!!one!! (0+ / 0-)

    After all, when a kid is being emailed and messaged with threats, teased and threatened in class, and beaten on and off school grounds, it's especially important that they don't see anyone else say words they already know.

    Can you imagine the terrible damage they could do to the bullies who are repeatedly kicking them in the ribs as they lie on the ground in a fetal ball if they said, "Get the fuck off me"?

    I apologize to any children who just read that. Please, please don't repeat that word after you have your nose broken by a bookbag while you're being beaten almost to death.

    We have to protect you, you see.

    The problem with going with your gut as opposed to your head is that the former is so often full of shit. - Randy Chestnut

    by lotusmaglite on Sun Mar 25, 2012 at 07:32:58 PM PDT

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