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Indie Film Guide

A Fandango Op/Ed: Why Kids and Adults Should Champion 'Bully'

By: cwalton on March 21, 2012 at 5:09PM Comments (14)

You might have read about some of the controversy surrounding Bully already. The buzzed-about documentary, opening March 30th in theaters,  has been making the news rounds after  the MPAA slapped it with an R rating for "some language" instead of granting distributor Weinstein Company a preferred PG-13 rating.

While I'm sure the MPAA has their own crazy reasoning why a film about the real problem of bullying merits a "Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian" designation, a lot of well-known folks are more than a little puzzled and are willing to take action. According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Boies and Ted Olsen - lawyers who successfully challenged the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 - have raised the possibility of taking the MPAA to court.
On a practical level, the rating controversy has brought a lot of attention to the film, and hopefully – final decision aside – that will translate into a lot of kids figuring out a way to see it. After all, this is an issue that affects each and every one of them. And let's be honest, it affects us adults, too.
Studios often ask Fandango for help promoting their films, or they offer up exclusive content to bring attention to their latest projects. It's no secret, we're a ticketing site, so in the end, we do want to help all of the studios market their wares and help our users find movies they'll want to see.
But being asked to write something personal about the problem of bullying, and to help draw attention to this issue and film, is maybe the easiest of all requests to grant. As a thirtysomething Samoan who was adopted into a white family at the age of three months, and who grew up in mostly white neighborhoods in Mississippi and Denver during the 70s and 80s, being picked on and having to stand up for myself, and needing others to stand up for me, too, is something I can easily recall.
It has in a very real way been a defining point of my life, as the way I treat others, and try to be in some form or another a decent fellow human being, is very much directly related to feeling and being treated like an outsider during my youth. Being called the "N" word or "brown boy," or taunted and laughed at, or beat up on the way home from school or snickered about behind my back…yes, it affected me, and I thank God for having my family and close friends, who I could see were equally in pain for me being treated that way. Their support meant everything. It makes it even sadder to hear when today's kids have to go through similar situations, and sadder still to hear that it was so bad for some of them that they felt the only way to stop the pain was to commit suicide.
The problem with bullying is that at the very root, it goes against our basic humanity and the right of all of us to exist on this planet and not be persecuted and made to feel inferior by other people – whether we're children or not…and especially if we're children. I'm not a parent yet, but I know that I would find it near impossible to be anything but highly disappointed and angry to know that one of my kids was bullying another. On the other hand, I would want to do everything in my power to make sure my own children and those around them were safe from constant ridicule and harassment from their peers.
That's why this film, independent of any rating, needs to be seen by kids. If the crowning achievement of their generation can be that they stood up together and said enough is enough and realized that the bullying of their peers or anyone is inherently the worst trait and way of being to another individual, then that would be an amazing and incredible blessing they could pass on to the next generation. As adults, the very least we can do is relate to them with our own stories, and keep the forum on this topic – and this movie – open for them to experience with each other.

Categories: Independent Film

Comments (14)Leave a Comment

  • Jun 20th 2012 3:32PM

    ldavistodd  said...

    I taught elementary school for 26 years, having just retired last fall. I am here to tell you that it would be a rare second grader who hasn't heard every filthy word in the English language and probably several in Spanish and Russian, depending on which immigrants attend his/her school. One of the first ways a young, unsophisticated bully starts is by saying words that they know are against the rules and will provoke and upset some of their peers. This makes them appear bold and scary. The "wee bully" could be a kindergartner who has learned to shock and awe with hand gestures. I have had many an 8 year old come to me in tears, saying so and so won't stop saying the "F" word. So, rating this move for language is interesting

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  • Apr 6th 2012 8:37PM

    notfrombrixton  said...

    I just saw the film. I think an R rating makes sense, because it is an intense film that kids should see with their parents. But I also think it should be required viewing for school staff. Moreover, many films that get PG-13 ratings, such as The Transformers, are devoid of any serious message and contain tons of gratuitous violence. Don't get me wrong. I like action movies and don't want to give Transformers an R. But this is deeper than a simple rating as we're dealing with real kids' real lives. The best thing about this film is that it has the potential to inspire all the good people in this country to team up; there is strength in numbers. Please see it and check the site at [BLOCKED WEBSITE]

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  • Apr 4th 2012 10:13PM

    cinsalenti  said...

    I agree that it should be PG13. I also feel schools should require the teachers and staff to view the movie. While watching my son be painfully bullied I realized that the teacher and the principal didn't know how (or didn't want) to deal with it. In our case, the bully and his mother were protected by the school because the mom has made various bad husband decisions. Therefore the bully is struggling in his home life. That's NOT my problem, nor does it give this little jerk the right to use my son as his personal punching bag mentally and physically. Since most states require an anti-bullying policy to be in place by schools, perhaps this should be a required viewing for the students that is given by the schools through this program.

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  • Apr 2nd 2012 3:34AM

    bellam190488  said...

    I would really love to see this film, I've been on the recieving end of bullying my entire scholastic life, this is the first time I've been able to go to a learning environment and not get bullied... I'm 21. Kids need to learn what they do and say affects other children, abd whilst I agree with Cookie-chan that life isn't PG13, I still think an R rating is too high for 'some' language.

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  • Mar 24th 2012 9:44AM

    Mrs_Weasley  said...

    I think an "R" rating is fine. The reason being is that this documentary should be seen by parents and children together. I hope it will open up dialog between them. Maybe watching this with their parents (or caregiver), bullied children will feel safe enough to open up to their parents (or caregiver). This isn't a problem for kids and teens to have to handle on their own. Parents need to know what is going on, too, so that together they can deal with it.

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  • Mar 23rd 2012 2:44PM

    jimmyd1020  said...

    I don't think it should be R at all since most of the bullying starts in elementary and especially junior highs (11-14). On the pro side for R, the parents can't just drop off their kids to 'learn something'. They have to ACCOMPANY them and then face the truth and answer questions afterward.

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  • Mar 30th 2012 3:01PM

    shirleysue  said...

    Well said. Afterall, parents teach the kids. In some way or another, they have taught their kids to either be bullies or to tolerate it. Taking a kid (any age) starts a conversation. I am going with my 26 year old daughter who, someday, will teach her children how to treat others.

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  • Mar 23rd 2012 8:39AM

    critter171  said...

    the problem with keeping r is many school on going to block it from showing. that the issue of the whole point.

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  • Mar 22nd 2012 7:35AM

    turtles90  said...

    I fully agree with Cookie-Chan.

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  • Mar 22nd 2012 6:48AM

    critter171  said...

    just cause they say it say nothing, the problem with keeping it r not bad read though is that many school won't show it is the issue that where the problem lies.

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  • Mar 23rd 2012 8:25AM

    nothingtofearmusic  said...

    Instead of spending an entire minute figuring out what these two lines mean, I'm just going to come out and ask: what the heck did you just say?

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  • Mar 21st 2012 11:24PM

    Cookie-Chan  said...

    I'm glad they stuck with the R rating. Life is not PG-13, life is an R if I ever saw one. And a documentary about bullying and how bad it's become should not be censored in any way shape or form, period.

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  • Mar 22nd 2012 5:33AM

    jakehbrown  said...

    This issue is not about censorship but allowing an important film through with a rating that more kids would be able to see uncensored. I agree the film should not be censored and if there was graphic violence and nudity I would agree with the rating, but not for language alone.

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  • Mar 22nd 2012 4:53PM

    Cookie-Chan  said...

    Kids need and should watch it even if it's rated R. It's a documentary about bullying and as I said life isn't PG-13 and plus kids watch plenty of unnecessary things nowadays in school and out so yeah an R-rating might be the thing to wake some of these kids up.

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