ANN ARBOR, MI — More than 75,000 people have joined a bullied high school student's campaign on Change.org urging the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to change the rating of the new film "Bully" from "R" to "PG-13."
Katy Butler, a high school student from Michigan, launched her campaign on Change.org after the MPAA rejected by one vote an appeal by The Weinstein Company to lower the rating of their film "Bully" to PG-13. Butler, who endured brutal bullying in middle school, says by maintaining an "R" rating, the MPAA has essentially banned the film from those who need to see it most: bullies and bully victims in schools across the country.
"I can't believe the MPAA is blocking American teenagers from seeing a movie that could literally save thousands of lives," said Butler, a junior at Greenhills High School who launched the campaign on Change.org . "I'm speaking out for all those students who suffer every day because of bullying. The MPAA needs to give Bully a PG-13 so the students being bullied, and the bullies themselves, can see this film and schools can show it as well."
"Bully," a new film by Lee Hirsch, documents the epidemic of bullying in American schools. According to the film's website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. The film is scheduled for release in select theaters on March 30. The film's distributor, The Weinstein Company, had reportedly planned to screen the film in middle and high schools across America.
"Critics of the film's "R" rating point to the 1971 documentary "Saturday Morning," which allegedly was allowed to use more foul language than the MPAA normally permits because of its documentary nature." Harvey Weinstein, co-chair of The Weinstein Company, has threatened to leave the MPAA over the decision, saying that the MPAA's R-rating for "Bully" is "an injustice" to kids who've suffered at the hands of bullies.
Butler says she started the Change.org petition because knows all too well what students go through at school on a daily basis. On the petition, Butler writes:
"When I was in 7th grade, a few guys came up behind me while putting my books in my locker. They called me names and asked me why I even bothered to show my face at school because no one liked me. I ignored them because I was scared of what else they might say and who else they might tell if I stood up to them. When I went to shut my locker, they pushed me against the wall. Then they slammed my locker shut on my hand, breaking my fourth finger. I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing. I didn't know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid."
In late 2011, Butler launched a different petition on Change.org urging the Michigan state legislature to stop the state's "License to Bully" bill that would have created religious and moral exemptions for bullying. After the petition attracted more than 50,000 signatures, the legislature passed a new bill that lacked the exemptions.
"It has been amazing to see Katy Butler's petition to the MPAA take off," said Change.org Campaign Manager Mark Anthony Dingbaum. "Katy's powerful story and the kids in this compelling film have already inspired tens of thousands of supporters to speak out. It's only a matter of time before the MPAA responds."
Live signature totals from Katy Butler's campaign (and comments from signers):
To learn more about the film "Bully," go to: