Mixtapes for Hookers

Can We Cut The Shit With This Bully Movie, Please?
March 5, 2012, 5:23 pm
Filed under: movies | Tags: , , , ,

My Twitter feed and Tumblr stream have been totally agog lately with grown adults who are horrified–horrified!–that Bully, the simply-titled documentary about bullying, got an R Rating from the MPAA. There fully-grown adult people whose opinions I normally find reasonable all seem to want everyone to sign a petition asking the MPAA to change the rating to a PG-13, so that this documentary can be shown in public schools across America, where bullying is apparently a rampant disease that can be easily cured by the consumption of Hollywood-financed documentaries.

The producers argue, not incorrectly, that the MPAA is overly rigid when it comes to the portrayal of teenagers and sex and swearing and drugs, while it is extremely lax with similarly-if-not-more jarring portrayals of violence. That is not news to anyone, particularly to the Weinstein Company, who is distributing this film, and that is why plenty of documentaries about touchy subjects are released without ratings from the MPAA.

But rather than doing that, the Weinsteins put this movie up for approval by the MPAA, knowing full well the board’s policy of giving R ratings to any movie that has the word “fuck” in it more than once. And now the Weinsteins–that marketing-savvy duo who released, among other things, the last two Best Picture Oscar winners–is turning this into an Issue That We Should Care About. Which strikes me as an extremely insincere marketing tactic. It’s working, of course; who would have ever heard of this movie, which isn’t even due in theaters for another month, if it weren’t for the fact that people all up and down the internet–including influential JC Penney spokesperson Ellen DeGeneres–believe that it is Important to take a Stand about this movie that they haven’t actually even seen.*

I just find it intensely frustrating when marketers take a trendy issue–even one as vague and odd as bullying–and try to convince people that signing an online petition is somehow going to make things better for suicidal high schoolers. A petition which, again, is being promoted by a company worth millions upon millions of dollars who stands to make even more money if this project is successful. Bully might be the most important movie ever made, for all I know. But maybe we should wait before getting bunching our panties about it.

[*Maybe Ellen’s seen it, I don’t know.]

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