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Bully Vs the MPAA
February 29, 2012 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Bully is an unflinching new documentary about teenagers and bullying. Controversially the MPAA is giving it an R for "language", preventing it's subjects from seeing it, and refusing to change that rating. In response Harvey Weinstein is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA, 75,000 people signed an online petition urging the rating be overturned and now in retaliation the National Association of Theatre Owners is now threatening to give all Weinstein Company films an automatic NC-17 rating in future.
posted by Artw (140 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Every character in this story is greedy and unlikeable.
posted by timshel at 3:38 PM on February 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is so unreal.
posted by june made him a gemini at 3:39 PM on February 29, 2012


They realize this is a form of bullying, right?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:39 PM on February 29, 2012 [67 favorites]


bullying is a great american tradition - we learn it from our leaders, our institutions and our authorities

"quit complaining or we'll rate all your movies NC-17" is a real good example of this

children are basically emulating what they see happening in the adult world around them

it's damn well time people started realizing this
posted by pyramid termite at 3:40 PM on February 29, 2012 [56 favorites]


Oh, please, please let this finally crack the MPAA's armor...
posted by Zed at 3:41 PM on February 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Bully bullies Bully when bully threatens to bully bully.
posted by jabberjaw at 3:41 PM on February 29, 2012 [42 favorites]


People still watch movies in theaters?
posted by gwint at 3:41 PM on February 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Aggghh!! I fucking hate the MPAA. Talk about bullies! If you haven't seen This Film is Not Yet Rated, I recommend it highly.
posted by latkes at 3:41 PM on February 29, 2012 [22 favorites]


For what it's worth: as a teacher, I have repeatedly shown R-rated films in class. It's not difficult to get around. You decide what the case is for the movie (Platoon has a point; Porky's would not), and then you stick to your guns. You give the kids a letter to take to their parents and you tell them that their parents should sign it if they do NOT want their kid to watch it, which typically means that every kid sees it.

I grant that my experience is limited to the Left Coast, and I feel bad for teachers where they'd actually get in trouble for this. But there are ways around these rules. Turns out kids know how to get around rules.

The MPAA may be assholes, but they've also inadvertently just made it more likely that kids will see this on their own, because they will want to see it more now.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:43 PM on February 29, 2012 [12 favorites]


I saw a headline about this the other day and thought they were talking about the Larry Clark movie, which seemed like it would have pretty little chance of being rated anything lower than R.

This whole situation is fucked up though. The MPAA is the worst.

(I can sort of understand the NATO's stance... an unrated movie is an unrated movie. But that's really a whole shitshow too.)
posted by kmz at 3:43 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


National Association of Theatre Owners is now threatening to give all Weinstein Company films an automatic NC-17 rating in future.

Well I've got nothing to worry about then; my understanding is that Canada has been neglecting its' NATO responsibilities for years.
posted by Hoopo at 3:44 PM on February 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


Note to those who don't RTFA: Weinstein is threatening to withdraw from the MPAA over this. Films not rated by the MPAA are treated as NC-17 by most theaters. This is not the theater owners being evil for the lulz of it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:45 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ugh, why did Pithian invoke his nine-year old daughter and the importance of getting the message out about bullying and then decide to support the MPAA in tying Weinstein's hands on the issue by threatening his future projects?

His whole argument is about maintaining neutrality and he picked a side!

The MPAA needs to be nuked from orbit and started from scratch with people who recognise what world and century they're living in. I couldn't even finish watching This Film is Not Yet Rated because arrrgggh.
posted by sundaydriver at 3:46 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The MPAA is beyond ridiculous. Is there a country that has a more reasonable system for movie ratings? Ratings in themselves aren't bad things, and the more information people can have the better, but the system by which these are derived is repugnant.
posted by Forktine at 3:48 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Note to those who don't RTFA: Weinstein is threatening to withdraw from the MPAA over this. Films not rated by the MPAA are treated as NC-17 by most theaters. This is not the theater owners being evil for the lulz of it.

There appears to be some disagreement on that.

No, Seriously... 'Unrated' Does Not Mean 'NC-17'
posted by Artw at 3:48 PM on February 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Actually, I'd be rather curious about the blanket NC-17 retaliation. It would instantly make ratings meaningless, as one would no longer be able to make any a priori judgement on a Weinstein produced movie based on its rating.
posted by redbeard at 3:49 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "Note to those who don't RTFA: Weinstein is threatening to withdraw from the MPAA over this. Films not rated by the MPAA are treated as NC-17 by most theaters. This is not the theater owners being evil for the lulz of it."

FTA: "If you decide to withdraw our support and participation in the rating system and begin to release movies without ratings, I will have no choice but to encourage my theatre-owner members to treat unrated movies from the Weinstein Co in the same manner as they treat unrated movies from anyone else," NATO president John Fithian wrote in a letter to the Weinsteins.

Pithian could have just as easily issued a statement to the MPAA saying he has no choice but to encourage theater-owners to screen this movie as PG-13.
posted by sundaydriver at 3:52 PM on February 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Disagreement how? It's a shitty policy, but there seems to be no dispute about the fact that "unrated movies are treated as NC-17" is policy at many (most?) theaters.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:53 PM on February 29, 2012


Language? Seriously? Is the MPAA so out of touch with reality that they think the average student has not heard, let alone USED more swear words than the film most likely contains? Idiots, all of them!
posted by Quasimike at 3:53 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Slight derail: is it really kids who need to see this movie? Or is it the adults who turn a blind eye to bullying unless/until there are dead children?
posted by bearwife at 3:54 PM on February 29, 2012 [20 favorites]


Treating unrated movies as the highest possible category makes total sense from a theater owner's perspective. That both encourages people to use the rating system in place and CYA. If Harvey were serious, he'd release the movie (unrated) via the internet. Even charge a few bucks if you must. That's how you best undermine the MPAA-NATO stranglehold on media (if you believe there is one).
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:55 PM on February 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's everyone who needs to see this movie. But it's kids who need to watch it together to make a difference in their collective behavior.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:55 PM on February 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: “This is not the theater owners being evil for the lulz of it.”

Indeed. I presume they're being evil for some much more devious purpose.
posted by koeselitz at 3:57 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


But actually, this is probably a brilliant move in terms of *increasing* teen interest in the movie. Without an R rating, it would have been seen as boring and do-good-y and uninteresting. With an R rating, however, now you've got forbidden fruit...
posted by Maias at 3:58 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Quasimike, even more telling, this is a documentary that follows five bullied students and their families in the course of a school year. It's language that kids are already using against/amongst each other.

And how many kids really pay attention to movie ratings? And if they are actually prohibited from seeing the movie, wouldn't that give the rascals an incentive to actually see it? PG-13 is kiddy stuff.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:58 PM on February 29, 2012


But if they really wanted teenagers to watch it, they wouldn't have called it a "documentary."
posted by jabberjaw at 3:59 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this pearl-clutching over "language" in a country where pretty much every kid has access to the internet...
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:00 PM on February 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


Actually, the NATO's appropriation of NC-17 is probably illegal.

When the MPAA created NC-17, it was in response to several things such as the creation of the movie Midnight Cowboy, which itself was a protest designed to show that an X-rated film could be a good film deserving cinematic release. The MPAA intended NC-17 to lack the stigma of the old X rating so that theatres could show NC-17 rated fare without being confused with porn houses.

It was the NATO that torpedoed them by announcing that they wouldn't carry NC-17 films at all, kind of screwing the MPAA's intent in the process.

Anyhoo, in order to prevent NC-17 from acquiring the stigma X had, the MPAA trademarked it. They wanted to make sure that the porn industry wouldn't taint their new rating as "XXX" had their old one.

Well, lookee here, the NATO is threatening to use the MPAA's trademarked rating without its authorization. I wonder if anyone has realized that the MPAA might not like that.
posted by localroger at 4:00 PM on February 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


For what it's worth: as a teacher, I have repeatedly shown R-rated films in class.

My favorite creative writing teacher in high school did too. He came down with pretty advanced lung cancer shortly before that year started, and he basically said "fuck it, what can they do to me." He then decided to show us good examples of creative writing in movies and showed us Evil Dead and other R rated movies. This was back in 1987 or so. He didn't live much longer after that, but he was an amazing teacher.

Fuck the MPAA, more need to ditch them like they did the production code back in the day. It's so arbitrary now what ratings things get that it's useless except to control the people they don't like. :P
posted by usagizero at 4:01 PM on February 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


On the other hand, the only way to really force all kids to watch it is to make it PG-13 so that mandatory field trips to see it are possible.
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:01 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


All this pearl-clutching over "language" in a country where pretty much every kid has access to the internet...

Well, and firearms...
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idiocy and utter cravenness to the big studios of the MPAA never ceases to amaze me... It annoys me that it effects what gets seen over here in the UK (ie films dumbed down to hit a rating to hit a mass audience. You can show show deaths a plenty... but woe betide you show a drop of blood, hear a swearword or see anything in the bikini ares..

Our censor, The BBFC, was utterly bonkers during the 80s but is now a rational and sensible organisation... I hope yours can eventual become the same.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:04 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Couldn't Weinstein just bleep out the swear words for a PG13 version?

It's not like anyone doesn't know what is being said when the bleeps are used.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:05 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


PG-13 also has some weird trends...
PG-13 films serving up way more violence, not much more sex
posted by Artw at 4:05 PM on February 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


The interesting thing is, this is pretty blatantly a PR move on the part of the MPAA. They've let plenty of films slip by in the past that almost certainly had much more swearing than this one.
posted by koeselitz at 4:07 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


preventing it's subjects from seeing it,

Not unprecedented. I understand that when Romeo and Juliet (1968) was released in Britain, it was given whatever that era's rating was that kept minors from seeing it due to a brief scene of Olivia Hussey (Juliet) shirtless. This meant that Hussey, 15 at the time, was legally too young to see her own breasts.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:07 PM on February 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


I keep waiting for the MPAA and TSA to join forces. It's only a matter of time.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:08 PM on February 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


A PR move? The MPAA wants to be on the pro-bullying side?

How would that help them?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:09 PM on February 29, 2012


They want to appeal more to assholes.
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on February 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


This meant that Hussey, 15 at the time, was legally too young to see her own breasts.

In the US today, a still from that scene could very likely get you in trouble for child porn.
posted by localroger at 4:10 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Harvey were serious, he'd release the movie (unrated) via the internet.

Scenario one: Harvey Weinstein is a selfless advocate for the downtrodden who is pushing this movie because it is important. He will no doubt give the movie away for free, because this isn't about money.

Scenario two: Harvey Weinstein doesn't give two shits about bullied kids but knows how to get well-meaning people to market the shit out of his movie for him, and has in fact managed to convince people that this movie is so important that all children must watch it.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:11 PM on February 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


The movie was rated R for some uncovered piano legs in some of the racier scenes.
posted by telstar at 4:11 PM on February 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Because without the MPAA's oh-so-helpful service, legions of American parents might think that this documentary about bullying was all sunshine, lolipopps, and rainbows? That it wouldn't, somehow, feature kids being mean to each other? If anything sums up how fucked up the whole bullying situation is, it's that the MPAA considers a documentary of the real world experiences of teenagers to merit the same rating as Pulp Fiction.
posted by zachlipton at 4:12 PM on February 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


localroger: NATO (I sort of feel ridiculous using that acronym here, but oh well) isn't giving an actual NC-17 rating. They're saying they'll treat unrated Weinstein movies as if they were.
posted by kmz at 4:13 PM on February 29, 2012


If anything sums up how fucked up the whole bullying situation is, it's that the MPAA considers a documentary of the real world experiences of teenagers to merit the same rating as Pulp Fiction.

Sadly, the real world experiences of teenagers all too often resemble some of the scenes in Pulp Fiction.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:15 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a bit of controversy when This Is England was given an 18 in the UK for once example of racist swearing which meant it's star, Thomas Turgoose was too young at the time to legally watch it.

(Also the Producer of Made in Dagenham made a big fuss / got a load of extra PR when it got a higher rating with less actual swearwords than the King's Speech with its 'therapeutic swearing')

Though on the whole the BBFC are pretty good nowadays.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:17 PM on February 29, 2012


The BBFC give every sign of being composed of people who actually like movies, for a start.
posted by Artw at 4:20 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


A PR move? The MPAA wants to be on the pro-bullying side?

They've been on that side for a long time now.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:22 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't kids still be able to go on field trips to see it, since they'd be accompanied by teachers and chaperones? We went on a field trip to see Glory my sophomore year.

I miss field trips. I wish my job had them.
posted by amarynth at 4:22 PM on February 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


wouldnt that be collusion and good reason to throw the RICO act at them?
posted by liza at 4:23 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


You could show this movie to every single kid in America and it would probably have negligible effects. Unless the kids are complete sociopaths, they're going to keep up, and get away with, "acceptable" behavior.

The people who need to see it is the teachers. The teachers and other care providers. Those are the ones who need to see and learn it is their responsibility and not the just counselors department.

Also, you know, parents. Because the behavior starts somewhere.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:29 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, Harvey W is good at drumming up publicity! Seriously, dude's a genius.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:30 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aggghh!! I fucking hate the MPAA. Talk about bullies! If you haven't seen This Film is Not Yet Rated, I recommend it highly.

This Film is Not Yet Rated
posted by homunculus at 4:35 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


> Unless the kids are complete sociopaths, they're going to keep up, and get away with, "acceptable" behavior.

Wait, what? The sociopath reference makes no sense, unless you mean that they will continue to bully regardless because they don't care what other people think.

As for changing the students, it would have an impact just out of the fact of showing kids their own age doing things to other students and then the consequences of those actions which they don't see once they get off the school bus, or go hang out with their friends. They will see people who they can associate with do the negative behaviors that they may be doing and the consequences that result from that. How would that not help add perspective and hopefully help stop bullying? It may even make it so the students will start pressuring the faculty to act. It might not stop the bully's, but it may make the majority of the student body that are complacent in the bullying stand up against the bully for once.

In short: everyone has to step up about bullying, not just students, not just parents, not just faculty. By giving this film an R rating, it is limiting the content to only a certain audience will see it, thus limiting its effectiveness.

I imagine that many of the conservative school districts (where there may be more issues with bullying: see Michigan and their "bullying is ok as long as it has religious grounds" law) may have blanket school wide policies that prevents schools from showing R rated films. Same schools may have policies that make it verboten to talk about homosexuality as well. You know, like Michelle Bachman's district.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:41 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there a country that has a more reasonable system for movie ratings?

The Australian Classification Board generally manages to align itself with community standards*. Five films and two books have been banned since 1995, mostly due to political interfererence.


* Thank goodness LiB is no longer here to lecture me.
posted by wilful at 4:43 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harvery should just put out a few eps of classic Grange Hill instead... do 'im Gripper!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:43 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Flippin' 'eck Tucker!

I'm not sure America is ready for the bleak social realism of any scene involving Ro-land being persecuted.
posted by Artw at 4:50 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I keep waiting for the MPAA and TSA to join forces. It's only a matter of time.

Great, so next time I fly I will have to go through the NC17-scanner, instead of the current porno-scanner, and take off my shoes at the movies? The pricing on the crappy food is already the same at the theater and in the airport, so we may as well make the rest of the experience the same.
posted by Forktine at 4:51 PM on February 29, 2012


The Australian Classification Board generally manages to align itself with community standards.

*Follows link*

->Starting in January 2010, customs officials have been directed by Australian federal government censors to confiscate any porn depicting female ejaculation.

WELL NOW I'M CONVINCED!
About time we got that filth off the market. And small breasts too! Digusting.
posted by Winnemac at 4:51 PM on February 29, 2012


Where do you guys see R rated films where there are no children present?* All that's required here is some >= 18 year old to take them.

* and can I move there?
posted by ODiV at 4:51 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


BZZZZT! UNCLEAN THOUGHTS!
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on February 29, 2012


(That, of course, being in response to Forktine and not ODiV or Winnemac, because, well, that would be a bit weird)
posted by Artw at 4:53 PM on February 29, 2012


I recall that when David Lynch first screened Wild At Heart (1990) for the MPAA he was told that feed store robbery scene had too much explicit gore to get even an "R" rating. Unless he recut the scene, the film would receive the new NC-17 rating, which had been introduced to replace the X rating, (abandoned to the porn industry), with a new adult rating that would allow adult-only mainstream films to be shown in theaters that had a "no-X" policy. They apparently were trying to make an example of the movie as one that needed to be kept away from minors purely for violent rather than sexual content. It was quickly becoming apparent that the NC-17 rating was going to be pretty much the same box-office death sentence the "X" was, however, as theater owners and the public were not apprehending that distinction.

Lynch screened the scene again for the panel, telling them he had cut out a few frames, which he had not in fact done. The power of suggestion, possibly combined Lynch's with nod to their authority, Got him his "R".
posted by longsleeves at 4:56 PM on February 29, 2012 [19 favorites]


The Australian Classification Board generally manages to align itself with community standards

Except with respect to video games, which don't have an R18+ category and are frequently banned or censored, despite the fact that the average age of gamers is now around 30 years. The lack of an R18+ classification has resulted in numerous games being banned or censored, including the entire Grand Theft Auto series (but not, for example, Saints Row for some inexplicable reason), and Left 4 Dead 2.

Apparently, there's a bill in train to get an R18+ classification, but the hand-wringing douchebags in the Liberal/Nationals (essentially Australia's conservative party) have pushed it into a Senate inquiry, which will likely add a few months.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:01 PM on February 29, 2012


[derail]HTWRT, the ACB had and has nothing to do with the lack of an R18 category. That was mostly a matter of the SA Attorney General. The ACB had in fact argued within government for the introduction of the R18 category, which is now happening, as you note.[/derail]
posted by wilful at 5:05 PM on February 29, 2012


wilful - yes, it's more a case of a regulator having to work to badly drafted legislation. The ACB were unable to align to community standard because of that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:15 PM on February 29, 2012


We recently staged a production of the musical 13. Its a musical that attempts to reasonably accurate depict what its like to be 13, albeit in a much softened form.

We were required to put a warning on it requiring children 13 and under be accompanied by an adult. Because, you know, a play that depicts what its like to be 13 really shouldn't be seen by anyone who is actually 13.

The way kids live their lives is not, apparently, appropriate for their own viewing.

Plus, it makes certain parents feel better, I suppose, to be able to pretend that kids don't behave the way they actually behave.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:17 PM on February 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Actually, the NATO's appropriation of NC-17 is probably illegal.

When the MPAA created NC-17, it was in response to several things such as the creation of the movie Midnight Cowboy, which itself was a protest designed to show that an X-rated film could be a good film deserving cinematic release. The MPAA intended NC-17 to lack the stigma of the old X rating so that theatres could show NC-17 rated fare without being confused with porn houses.


Localroger, read the article. It makes it very clear that the theater owners would, in the absence of a rating, treat the film as if it were rated NC-17. They are not appropriating the rating.
posted by jayder at 5:33 PM on February 29, 2012


ODiV: "Where do you guys see R rated films where there are no children present?* All that's required here is some >= 18 year old to take them.

* and can I move there
"

The availability of the 18+ chaperone option is basically the very definition of the difference between R and NC-17, you do realize.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:39 PM on February 29, 2012


Slightly related (to Weinstein and bullying): Harvey Weinstein's former personal assistant writes tell-all play (sorta)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:47 PM on February 29, 2012


A PR move? The MPAA wants to be on the pro-bullying side?

How would that help them?


Anything anti-bullying is perceived as pro-LGBT by evangelicals and some other social conservatives, and the MPAA is trying to curry favor with social conservatives right now:
Dodd's role as the face of the motion picture industry carries one major downside: “He is now in the central arena of the culture wars," warns Steven Schier, political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

"Social conservatives have long viewed Hollywood as the source of much that is wrong with American culture,” Professor Schier notes. “Dodd will need to defend the industry from their unyielding criticism, which will be voiced by their allies in Congress.”
posted by jamjam at 5:48 PM on February 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anything anti-bullying is perceived as pro-LGBT by evangelicals and some other social conservatives, and the MPAA is trying to curry favor with social conservatives

I have read this three times now. I still can't believe it.

There are actually factions out there that are in favour of torturing and traumatising children?

Ugh. Just...ugh.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:57 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, keep in mind that these same people worship a God they believe is going to torture these same kids for all eternity. So, yeah - they're okay with a bit of torture.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:59 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anything anti-bullying is perceived as pro-LGBT by evangelicals

How do you know this? I know quite a few evangelicals, actually, and I can't conceive of any way in which this is true. I'm open to learning otherwise, but it strikes me as something that others want to be true but really, across the board, probably isn't. Either that, or the word "evangelical" is being applied pretty restrictively to fringe groups or something.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:04 PM on February 29, 2012


The MPAA sucks. I don't pay attention to ratings at all anymore; I couldn't tell you the rating for every movie I've seen in the last decade. But I sure as hell did when I was a kid, and under restriction. If *any* movie came out that was PG (this was before PG-13), I wanted to see it. A Victorian drama? Sure, if it's PG. There were enough R movies forbidden to me, I wanted to make the most of it. And when the PG-13 rating came out, I was...13. So it was kind of moot to me at that point.

The main problem with the MPAA (and, it seems, with American culture in general) is the schizophrenic nature of what is deemed "bad". Nudity, sex, and swear words are considered bad. For many people there is no daylight between nudity and sex, and the former *must* result in the latter. I wouldn't want my young child seeing Nil by Mouth, but a few f-bombs here and there will not harm any child.

But violence...have at it! The MPAA doesn't have much of a problem with violent movies, and things that are PG and PG-13 can be quite violent indeed. I wish the MPAA would swap their attitudes on these things, and stop being so dense on sex and language but step up their restrictions based on violence.
posted by zardoz at 6:07 PM on February 29, 2012


I have read this three times now. I still can't believe it.

When I read the original links in the post, I had a niggling thought in the back of my mind that there was a pro-bullying side, someone out there who would be opposed to the movie and its message. Then I thought, "nah, who could oppose an anti-bullying message." So when I read jamjam's message, I thought "oh yeah, of course."

Fuck those people. Nothing would be too awful for them: I hope they are drawn and quartered, flayed, burned alive, boiled in oil, in this life or the next, as atonement for their crimes against the safety and dignity of their fellow human beings.
posted by jayder at 6:08 PM on February 29, 2012


Yep, Evangelicals (as a political, Christianist group, not the theological definition of evangelic Christianity) are protecting bullies, as long as they're bullying for religious (read: Christian) reasons.
posted by MadGastronomer at 6:13 PM on February 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are actually factions out there that are in favour of torturing and traumatising children?

Go to the website of any media outlet that is not overtly liberal, and read the comments on the Texas judge beating his daughter video. Lots of people are in favor of this for all kinds of reasons, it's no shock.
posted by cairdeas at 6:16 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


A lot of the anti-anti-bullying people are doing do in the name of "freedom of religion".

Granted that ThinkProgress isn't necessarily a non-biased source, but this article and related video gives a good insight into the argument being made on the side of the "pro-bullying" people.

Also, this HuffPo article looks closely at the Tennessee anti-anti-bullying bill which has been in their legislature in the past couple of months.

So yeah, there is a group of people who are working against anti-bullying measures because they would limit the right of religious people to be nasty to people who live lives they feel are somehow bad. It's hard not to portray people who want the religious freedom to be nasty to others as pro-bullying, so I understand the language.

And I deplore the mindset.

I'm not sure it's fair to say that ALL evangelicals think this way, but I'm not sure the comment in which this came up said it was universal to any group, although the wording could be construed as such.
posted by hippybear at 6:17 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


The primary MPAA ratings are G (General Audiences), PG (Parental Guidance Suggested/Some material might not be suitable for children), PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned/Some material may be inappropriate for children under the age of 13), R (Restricted/Under 17 not admitted without parent or adult guardian), and NC-17 (No One 17 and Under Admitted).

THEY ARE THINKING OF THE CHILDREN! WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!


THEY ARE THINKING OF THE CHILDREN. The children can be kept innocent if we never let them see or experience anything "impure." They will be cherubic fresh faced angels forever and they will respect their elders and say please and thank you and yes sir and yes ma'am and they will say their prayers and go to bed at eight. They might get a little muddy or scrape their knees, the little scamps, but pobody's nerfect!


Those are the children they are thinking of. Not, y'know, actual real complicated human being children.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:18 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lots of people are in favor of this for all kinds of reasons, it's no shock.

It is to me. Kids get bullied as much in Australia as anywhere else, I'm sure. But no one sane is trying to say is a good thing, or OK.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:22 PM on February 29, 2012


Not unprecedented. I understand that when Romeo and Juliet (1968) was released in Britain, it was given whatever that era's rating was that kept minors from seeing it due to a brief scene of Olivia Hussey (Juliet) shirtless. This meant that Hussey, 15 at the time, was legally too young to see her own breasts.


I love how whenever I see this story told, I'm supposed to be outraged about how stupid it was that Hussey couldn't see her own breasts onscreen, rather than being outraged about how a 15 year old's breasts were filmed by a bunch of grown men in the name of their art.
posted by cairdeas at 6:28 PM on February 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


Damn it, I should clarify. The religious nutjob contingent is less vocal and less powerful in Australia than it is in the US. But, of course, they still exist.

But, as far as I know, no religious or conservative groups of any sigificance have been insane enough to claim that bullying in school is OK, on sexuality or religious grounds, or otherwise.

That's why the US groups stating that bulling of LGBT teens should be permitted is shocking to me, personally.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:29 PM on February 29, 2012


His thoughts were red thoughts: I don't think any of them have out-and-out stated that it should be permissible, but I think it partly comes from a widespread idea here that it's okay for physical violence to be used against children, particularly to "mold" them, bend them to your will, etc.
posted by cairdeas at 6:32 PM on February 29, 2012


From the last article: "Yet were the MPAA and NATO to waive the ratings rules whenever we believed that a particular movie had merit, or was somehow more important than other movies, we would no longer be neutral parties applying consistent standards, but rather censors of content based on personal mores."

Oh right. NEUTRAL PARTIES applying standards. I forgot that we can just be neutral parties in this culture, rather than individuals subject to stuff like social-personal mores, political expediency, money and capitalist concerns...etc. I've never seen the ratings boards as neutral parties. They're upholding a cultural standard, in favor of the "moral majority", and it's goddamn obvious. Just by nature of applying ratings to what children should have access to is, by definition, not neutral. It's a normative claim with cultural explanations as support.
posted by zinful at 6:35 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not like anyone doesn't know what is being said when the bleeps are used.

Yeah, I'm old enough that it still seems weird to me the way, for instance, Jon Stewart basically says "fuck" whenever he wants on The Daily Show and they cover it with the skimpiest beep that isn't even trying to hide what he's saying.

Surely Weinstein could have just done that if he was really concerned about making sure everyone who "needs" to see this can. (Personally, I'd want to see the movie before believing all the OMG CHILDREN NEED TO SEE THIS IMPORTANT MOVIE hype.)
posted by straight at 6:38 PM on February 29, 2012


Yes, there is actually pro-bullying legislation.

A couple of months ago, we were in Chicago and caught a show of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. 30 plays in 60 minutes, the performance order is determined by audience members shouting out the numbers of plays they want to see.

The last piece, IIRC, was called Bruises. One of the performers told the story of every time he was bullied, every time he was beaten up, pantomiming what had been done to him. Sometimes he knew the reason, sometimes he didn't know.

He went on to say that Michigan Republicans had passed a PRO- bullying bill:

Michigan Senate Republicans have passed a bullying bill — not an anti-bullying bill — that actually gives license to bully. In an Orwellian twist, the bill, which passed 26-11, with zero Democratic votes, allows kids to be bullied by anyone: teachers, fellow students, school employees, volunteers and parents, if they can provide a so-called religious or moral reason for their actions, giving the phrase, “the devil made me do it” sufficient validity.

He wasn't "in character,"per se (the Neo-Futurists never really are) but he seemed to break from the performance, and responded with real pain and anger - he had no idea why someone, much less a group of adults, who are supposed to protect children and teach them to get along in civilized society, would do something so horrifically mean-spirited, hateful, and hurtful.

And I don't know either. I guess they are dog-whistling their "base." But how little of a soul must you have if that is what you want in your constituents, if that is what you are willing to do to hold onto your precious Senate seat, if that is what you have to do to toe the party line? What master do you serve? Do they ever ask themselves that?
posted by louche mustachio at 6:39 PM on February 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


unless you mean that they will continue to bully regardless because they don't care what other people think

Is there some other way to interpret that?

How would that not help add perspective and hopefully help stop bullying?

At what pre-college age did you actually feel you gained perspective?

Trick question. If you honestly thought about it, then it shouldn't have taken much to come to the conclusions that kids need guidance of older adults. Not a movie. I'm not saying the movie wouldn't have value as an aid, but if you think it would have some kind of grandiose effect then you're living a lovely delusion.

Let me put it another way. You ever watch one of those after school specials? I could make a long list of them and then make another list of stupid shit I did that those specials told me not to do. Regardless of rating, a movie is a band aid for a plague.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:44 PM on February 29, 2012


The rating is utter bullshit, obviously, and the MPAA and NATO have always been collusive and corrupt pay-to-play rackets and really ought to have the SEC all up their ass for even existing.

But, um, why did Weinstein put the documentary up for an MPAA rating in the first place? Produce it independently, bypass the MPAA, release it as "unrated," license it to PBS or whatever. That's standard procedure for documentaries. Why the deviation?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:45 PM on February 29, 2012


Clearly, children under the age of 17 have never heard "fuck" before, and they should, thus, be barred from any film that contains it. Who knows what kind of mental derangement it could cause to have our naive and innocent youth hear those four letters arranged in that order?

No matter the film's artistic merit, there are rules.
posted by Malor at 6:51 PM on February 29, 2012


The MPAA doesn't want under 17's to view a human penis.....but is perfectly ok with having them see coke snorted off a woman's belly--as one can in The Social Network.
posted by brujita at 7:38 PM on February 29, 2012


I know almost nothing about Harvey Weinstein, so I always picture him in my head as Harvey Fierstein's character in Death to Smoochy.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:48 PM on February 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


The MPAA is beyond ridiculous. Is there a country that has a more reasonable system for movie ratings? Ratings in themselves aren't bad things, and the more information people can have the better, but the system by which these are derived is repugnant.

Agree, except for the part about ratings not being bad things. They're not "information." If you want information, read the reviews or, if you must, one of those wack-job "Think of the children!!" websites and use that info to decide what to let your kids see.

The MPAA ratings system tries to do parents' jobs for them and bullies filmmakers. It's utterly worthless in every way.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:54 PM on February 29, 2012


More succinctly:

MPAA ratings are "information" in the same way McCarthy's famous list was "information."
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:58 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


People still watch movies in theaters?
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:04 PM on February 29, 2012


But, um, why did Weinstein put the documentary up for an MPAA rating in the first place? Produce it independently, bypass the MPAA, release it as "unrated," license it to PBS or whatever. That's standard procedure for documentaries. Why the deviation?

Because he wants kids to watch it. Kids don't watch PBS.
posted by inigo2 at 8:09 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The availability of the 18+ chaperone option is basically the very definition of the difference between R and NC-17, you do realize.

Yeah, I'm not American but that seems like the main difference to me. The wording of the FPP made it seem like no kids or teens would be able to see it and that's what I was commenting on.
posted by ODiV at 8:10 PM on February 29, 2012


I think they should consider putting it on the web and letting people pay what they want to download it. If Louis C.K., indie games, and Radiohead can make this model work and walk away with quite a bit of cash, I think releasing it independently, with all of the word of mouth going on, would not only be the best way to get it to kids who actually need to see it, but could perhaps be financially viable. Considering that documentaries don't traditionally make a lot in theaters anyway, they can do this and still release it on DVD later without a rating.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:44 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Australia banned Baise-Moi and Ken Park? I can rent both of those in Toronto. And I've been able to rent Salo for many, many years now (Bloor Video used to have some absurd deposit if you wanted to rent it because copies were so rare/expensive before Criterion re-released it) and that's only been legal in Australia since, what, 2010? And now you ban female ejaculate and small breasts?

Forgive me if I don't consider that a model of reasonableness.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:46 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that the reason that Weinstein wants the lower rating is to make it easier -- or, in many cases, possible at all -- to show the movie in schools. Yes, SOME schools in SOME areas, mostly high schools, will allow R-rated movies to be shown. But a lot will not at all, and particularly a lot of junior highs and middle schools, where this movie is just as important. So no, it's not just a matter of theater showings.
posted by MadGastronomer at 8:56 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, my 9-year-old -- who attends a Quaker school -- had an incident the other night at swim practice where another kid repeatedly taunted him, calling him "fat" and "fatty." After practice, my kid waited for the other kid's parent to show up, and then went to the dad directly and said, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but your son is a bully." The dad was taken aback, and the kid got defensive. "I only called you fat after you punched me!" he said. But my kid stood his ground: "No, you called me fat three times," he said. "And THEN I punched you."

Later he told me about what had happened, confessing to me that he was "sensitive" and "sometimes underconfident," and we had a nice long talk about all kinds of things, including how being sensitive and sometimes underconfident can maybe even help make you a keen observer of what's around you and thus prepare you even more thoughtfully for stepping up when a bit of overconfidence is needed (like, say, standing up to being teased about your body and telling someone's dad about it).

It broke my heart to see him deal with this sort of thing despite being in a super-protected Quaker school environment where you'd think it wouldn't happen, since the school is all about community and acceptance and everyone coming together to talk about difficult issues that arise so as to prevent those issues from flourishing into full-fledged dysfunction. And yet I imagine that having been in such a place, where difficult conversations are encouraged, probably helped empower him to speak up about it.

Anyway. It sounds as though this movie is part of a difficult conversation that kids are already having. I hope everyone who needs to see it gets to see it.
posted by mothershock at 9:12 PM on February 29, 2012 [25 favorites]


Holy cow, your kid sounds great, mothershock. Talking to the other kid's dad on his own is super brave and this internet stranger is impressed. Not to mention being that tuned in to his own reactions.
posted by lauranesson at 10:01 PM on February 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


After practice, my kid waited for the other kid's parent to show up, and then went to the dad directly and said, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but your son is a bully."

Your son has big brass balls.
posted by davidpriest.ca at 10:07 PM on February 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


Another reason to pirate movies...
posted by Renoroc at 11:48 PM on February 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah this is idiotic. Making kids watch this is really missing the point though, they know all about bullies. Make the fucking teachers, who turn a blind eye and even join in when kids are tormented and then freak the fuck out when someone wears black and seems depressed.

It reminds me of all those Scared Straight things I was forced to watch, where hardened cons got up in kid's faces and told them how they were going to make them their bitch if they ever ended up in prison. It was a fucking implicit endorsement of the the utterly fucked up nature of our prision system and everyone was so damn gleeful about it. Despite all that, the entire thing was a joke.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:29 AM on March 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Making kids watch this is really missing the point though, they know all about bullies.

Only a lot of them don't. A lot of teens are convinced that what they do isn't bullying, it's just kidding around, that it's not that bad, that it's funny. A lot of them never see it going on around them, or deny that what they see is bullying. It is every bit as important to teach kids both what constitutes bullying and that it's wrong as it is to teach both of these things to teachers, administrators and parents.
posted by MadGastronomer at 12:37 AM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ok, point taken.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:39 AM on March 1, 2012


I was the victim of some horrific bullying in Jr. High, on my bus. None of my bulliers thought what they were doing was wrong, even though it involved a lot of punching me, stealing my stuff and regularly tying my shoelaces into increasingly complicated knots.

It wasn't until I literally broke down one day and just started crying and screaming that they realized what they were doing. I vividly remember how shocked and confused everyone was at how upset I was. To them they were teasing, but to me I was being tormented.

I was lucky that having a mental breakdown in front of my peers snapped them out of it and didn't escalate my torment. Things were fine from there on and those kids on the bus wound up becoming some of my closer friends.
posted by chemoboy at 1:06 AM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an American living in the UK, I was always interested in the fact the over here ( and Europe in general ) language, nudity and sex are not seen as too big a deal, while violence and firearms are seen as a very big deal. My experience growing up in America was the exact reverse of that equation.

As a teacher, I know the bullying is treated with more gravity over here than back home. And back home many of the kids are armed.
posted by Hickeystudio at 1:51 AM on March 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


No one here seems to remember why they created a rating system in the first place. It was to get the #%$! self-righteous assholes off the backs of the movie industry. Yes, there are problems. But the bigger problem are the same people that don't want this movie shown are the ones that scream the loudest over some boobies, while giving a pass to blood.

And as for the violence: Violence is a-ok. It prepares young people to be better soldiers. Corporate needs more soldiers. Didn't you see the memo?
posted by Goofyy at 5:09 AM on March 1, 2012


Re: the pro-bullying crowd - that's exactly the kind of people these evangelicals are. One of the reasons I will not shop at Target is that they donated $150,000 to the 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial campaign for Tom Emmer. Emmer is virulently anti-gay and he voted against an anti-bullying measure simply because it would protect LGBT teens. Unfortunately for him it passed anyway.

I don't even know how these people call themselves Christians - I think Christ would be appalled at their behavior and the way they deliberately set out to hurt other people.
posted by i feel possessed at 6:43 AM on March 1, 2012


Can't they do that thing where you hear the F and the K and there's a BEEP in the middle, fooling precisely no-one over the age of three?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:07 AM on March 1, 2012


Seriously, do none of you proposing bleeping stuff out remember being a kid? We thought that was hilarious when I was that age -- and we could certainly never take seriously anything that did that. I still can't. BBCA silences the words entirely, and it throws me out of the show every time. Bleeps are even more ridiculous.

All of which is beside the point. There's no good reason that they should have to. It's an absurd standard.
posted by MadGastronomer at 8:46 AM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


jabberjaw: Bully bullies Bully when bully threatens to bully bully.

In fact, since Weinstein went to SUNY Buffalo1 and the MPAA would charitably be described as bovine, this is pretty much exactly a case of
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo "Buffalo."
And here I'd thought buffalo^N would never be a real sentence.
posted by Westringia F. at 11:09 AM on March 1, 2012


Oh yes, oh yes, DIE MPAA!

This Film is Not Rated is a great documentary about how fucked up the MPAA ratings are.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:04 PM on March 1, 2012


GAH, I left out the "Yet" when I searched for it. Doh. Still, great doc.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:05 PM on March 1, 2012


You ever watch one of those after school specials? I could make a long list of them and then make another list of stupid shit I did that those specials told me not to do.

But that's because they weren't any good. Kids are obviously affected by TV shows and movies they watch during childhood. It's how they define the normative.

I saw lots of movies and films like this that affected my perspective.

Yeah, I really strongly disagree that kids don't need to see this shit. I'll try to think of some examples of films/documentaries that really affected me as a child...

At what pre-college age did you actually feel you gained perspective?

11.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:15 PM on March 1, 2012


Only a lot of them don't. A lot of teens are convinced that what they do isn't bullying, it's just kidding around, that it's not that bad, that it's funny. A lot of them never see it going on around them, or deny that what they see is bullying. It is every bit as important to teach kids both what constitutes bullying and that it's wrong as it is to teach both of these things to teachers, administrators and parents.

That really nails it. It's one thing for teachers to tell kids "this is wrong," it's totally another to see it brought to life via film.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:16 PM on March 1, 2012


Seriously, do none of you proposing bleeping stuff out remember being a kid? We thought that was hilarious when I was that age -- and we could certainly never take seriously anything that did that.

So you're claiming that kids today think The Daily Show (for instance) is stupid and lame because it bleeps out some of the swear words?

Or that, in this case, kids who might otherwise empathize with the kids in this documentary who are being bullied would instead laugh at or ignore them if some of the swear words are bleeped out? If the documentary hangs or falls on the how cool and authentic the viewer perceives the filmmakers to be, it's almost certainly a lousy documentary.
posted by straight at 11:43 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either bleeps are a softening measure to lessen impact, to distance and make safe, or they do nothing. If it's the first, then why bother there's no point to it. If it's the the former then fuck that, some things should not be lessened, made safe or distanced.

If the documentary hangs or falls on the how cool and authentic the viewer perceives the filmmakers to be, it's almost certainly a lousy documentary.

Fuck that noise.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


That seems pretty silly to me, Artw. As if kids saying "fuck" is some big revelation that people need to have shoved in their faces in order to understand bullying.

The Interrupters manages to be a powerful and moving documentary about violence in Chicago without showing a bunch of close-up pictures of gunshot wounds. That kind of "realism" would have just made it unpleasant, so much so that some people wouldn't watch it. I don't need to have it shoved in my face to understand that it's there and to care about the people who are hurt by it.

Some people find coarse language unpleasant and wouldn't want to watch a movie full of it. My kids have acquaintances who talk that way--it's not like they've never heard that language before--but it makes them uncomfortable and I wouldn't ask them to watch a movie full of it for no good reason when you can just bleep it or blank it out.
posted by straight at 3:49 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't need to have it shoved in my face to understand that it's there and to care about the people who are hurt by it.

Yeah, well, ufortunately, there are lots of people who aren't you.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:10 PM on March 2, 2012


Artw: Either bleeps are a softening measure to lessen impact, to distance and make safe, or they do nothing... If it's the the former then fuck that, some things should not be lessened, made safe or distanced.


I disagree. I think, for example, simply hearing other young girls be called "cunt," "bitch," "whore," and so forth is damaging to young girls. I would like to be able to bring a young girl to see a film about bullying without her being put in the position of having to listen to that. Young girls should be able to have the chance to learn about issues without needing to just sit there and take it as misogynistic obscenity is spewed freely. Just because someone on the internet think that's more "real." If you want the movie shown to adults only then fine (and that's the situation here anyway). If you want your own kids to know what the curses said then you can tell them.
posted by cairdeas at 4:25 PM on March 2, 2012


Yeah, well, unfortunately, there are lots of people who aren't you.

Are you sure about that snark? It looks like you're claiming that lots of people who see The Interrupters don't empathize with the people in the movie because the filmmaker failed to include close-ups of gunshot wounds. Which is pretty ridiculous.

If you want your own kids to know what the curses said then you can tell them.

Or you can just accompany them to an R-rated film.
posted by straight at 9:33 PM on March 2, 2012


We recently staged a production of the musical 13. Its a musical that attempts to reasonably accurate depict what its like to be 13 ... Plus, it makes certain parents feel better, I suppose, to be able to pretend that kids don't behave the way they actually behave.

Because "what it's like to be 13" is pretty much the same for all kids and "the way they actually behave" is pretty much the same for all kids (and any parent who thinks otherwise doesn't know their own kids as well as you do).

Sounds like a pretty insightful production.
posted by straight at 9:35 PM on March 2, 2012


I disagree. I think, for example, simply hearing other young girls be called "cunt," "bitch," "whore," and so forth is damaging to young girls. I would like to be able to bring a young girl to see a film about bullying without her being put in the position of having to listen to that.

We're on opposite sides of the spectrum here, but I strongly disagree. I *do* think it lessens the impact because it makes the abuse generic instead of specific.

And I think sheltering girls (and boys) from abusive words endows those words with more power than they deserve.

As far as ratings go, I'd much rather see ratings like Strong Language, Adult Sexual Situations, etc. than generic age bans, but I think this decision is a mistake (to make this doc R instead of PG-13 because of language).

The context of the language needs to be a factor. "Cunt" alone shouldn't make a movie "R" and I can't see why kids who see kids abusing each other in real life should be told they aren't old enough to handle watching a movie about it. Really bizarre to me.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:02 AM on March 5, 2012


I can't see why kids who see kids abusing each other in real life should be told they aren't old enough to handle watching a movie about it.

I don't see why you think you're able to make a blanket statement like that for all kids, why you think you are a better person to decide what a kid is ready to see or listen to than that kid's parents.
posted by straight at 9:45 AM on March 5, 2012


I don't see why you think you're able to make a blanket statement like that for all kids, why you think you are a better person to decide what a kid is ready to see or listen to than that kid's parents.

So rate it PG (Parental Guidance Suggested), or PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) at the very worst. That's what those ratings are for.

Rating something R just for an f-bomb or two is patently ridiculous. Kids don't give a fuck about swearwords.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:34 AM on March 5, 2012


I *do* think it lessens the impact because it makes the abuse generic instead of specific.


I disagree that receiving the message, "this abuse is targeted generically to your GENDER, honey, not you specifically as an individual" is less damaging for a young girl.

And I think sheltering girls (and boys) from abusive words endows those words with more power than they deserve.

Wait, if abusive words lose their power the more they are used or heard then why would they be included in a movie about bullying? Isn't one of the ideas of the movie that these words are hurting the children they are used on and their use should be stopped? Why are we trying to stop bullies from using them then, why not encourage the bullies to use the words MORE on the other children so they lose their power?

The reality is that this is not how verbal abuse works. Words DO hurt. They don't stop hurting the more you hear them, for most people. Words ARE used by more powerful elements of society to bully weaker members of society, and that doesn't grow less effective either the more it is done. It gets more powerful.

In the opinions of some people, there are ways to reclaim words, but just continuing to use or listen to abusers use them in exactly the abusive, damaging way they were originally intended, is not how you do that.

All it does is continue to give children the message, "hey, these words are a perfectly legitimate part of our culture and if they bother you then maybe you are just too sensitive!"

The context of the language needs to be a factor. "Cunt" alone shouldn't make a movie "R"

Why not? What is it about the context of the word "cunt" as used in the US (as a way to verbally abuse a woman), that the average 13 year old boy or girl would be able to to process, without adult guidance, in a healthy way?

I can't see why kids who see kids abusing each other in real life should be told they aren't old enough to handle watching a movie about it

1. Not all kids are abusing each other or being abused in real life.
2. I thought the point of including the abusive words was to educate the kids about reality. If all the kids already know about this, then that's not true, and the only point of having the words in is just to tittilate the adults.
3. This kind of reminds me of that song that goes "if her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal; if her daddy's poor, you can do what you feel." So if a girl is subject to vicious gendered verbal abuse, she's already damaged, who cares if she has to sit through more of it in order to watch this movie.
posted by cairdeas at 12:17 PM on March 5, 2012


Kids don't give a fuck about swearwords.

Sheer ignorance. Some do.
posted by straight at 12:19 PM on March 5, 2012


Why not? What is it about the context of the word "cunt" as used in the US (as a way to verbally abuse a woman), that the average 13 year old boy or girl would be able to to process, without adult guidance, in a healthy way?

We're not talking about an especially raunchy episode of Dora the Explorer here. The context is an anti-bullying documentary about teenagers. The film, made by adults, exists solely for the purpose of providing guidance. The context is actual footage of actual teenagers actually bullying. The message is THIS IS NOT OKAY.

How is that context even remotely unacceptable?

How do you effectively say "don't do this" without revealing what "this" is?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:37 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're starting to sound like Mitt Romney responding to Rush Limbaugh. As if the main problem with bullies that we need to spotlight and take a stand against is the vocabulary they use.

If this documentary is any good, I can't believe the cruelty of bullies would really be obscured by bleeping out some of the swear words they use.
posted by straight at 2:16 PM on March 5, 2012


And I can't believe it would improve anything to bleep those words.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:23 PM on March 5, 2012


Straight - TBH what I am getting from you here is that it couldn't possibly be a bad thing that teenagers will be prevented from seeing this movie because, because it conflicts with hope you prefer to see teenagers, and therefore you've got to make all this stuff up about what teenagers are actually like, how the movie can't possibly be any good, and how tertrible and traumatic a few f bombs are.

Sorry dude, in this instance your preferences make you a badf person, and you are kind of being a prick about it.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on March 5, 2012


Sorry dude, in this instance your preferences make you a badf person, and you are kind of being a prick about it.

LOL at seeing this in a thread about bullying.

Point completely missed.
posted by cairdeas at 2:32 PM on March 5, 2012


Pff. Pretty sure he's quite secure up on whatever lofty pinacle he resides on where teenagers getting bullying is not a problem but the thought that they might here swear words is.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2012


Artw, it's my concern for people being bullied that is behind a lot of what I'm saying here. If this documentary is good, it should be seen by as many people as possible. If it has words like "fuck" in it, then a lot of people will refuse to see it and refuse to let their kids see it. That's not going to change in the time period when this film is relevant, no matter how much you rail against it.

I'm like most Metafilter folks. I've become completely unfazed by swearing. I love the Big Lewbowski. But my kids aren't like me (yet?) It really bothers them when they're subjected to that kind of language.

Show a little empathy and imagination here, Artw. Are there maybe some kinds of gore or violence in movies that make you feel really uncomfortable? Or maybe not, but you at least recognize that different people have different levels of tolerance for watching violence?

Swearing is like that for some people. Some of them are people who might benefit from seeing this movie.
posted by straight at 9:52 PM on March 5, 2012


How do you effectively say "don't do this" without revealing what "this" is?

Succinct.

Swearing is like that for some people. Some of them are people who might benefit from seeing this movie.

Family Safe Media. I actually think the idea has merit (although that argument goes all over the place.)

If this documentary is good, it should be seen by as many people as possible

I think that's where the difference in position is. Your position is to allow for the greatest distribution of the film. My position would be: make the best film possible, regardless of rating; recognize that our PG-13/R rating system is pretty fucked up to allow lots of violence and specific normative types of sexual behavior for PG-13 then throwing up the R rating for swears. I haven't seen the movie so I can't really say if it's a bad or horrible decision, but I do know the entire system is very flawed.

But my kids aren't like me (yet?) It really bothers them when they're subjected to that kind of language.

It's not the language, it's the delivery. And there is the point. If all the bullies in the film were using regional dialect slang or something that seemed like gibberish, the film would likely still disturb most kids just as much.

And I do think bleeps really detract. I can still remember when I was a kid. They are a distraction and an indication that "hey, we say that you're ready to talk about these serious issues but we're not ready to treat you like a serious person." My2c.

Again, the fact that a film showing teenagers acting like teenagers see teenagers acting is rated so that teenagers can't see it is certainly a bit ironic, and an indication of how flawed the rating system is (unless the intent is to delude, which I suppose it is in some ways.)

The whole thing is a bit of a tempest in a teapot, since nobody's gonna go see this movie unless their mom and dad make them and presumably go with them, in which case an R-rating doesn't matter. *However* I think a lot of moms and dads would be turned off by the R-rating just on principle, regardless of content.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:19 AM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


'The Hunger Games,' 'Bully' prompt ratings fight: Profanities get 'Bully' an R rating; teens fighting to the death gets 'The Hunger Games' a PG-13 rating, generating much criticism of the MPAA system.
posted by homunculus at 6:06 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bully to be released unrated
posted by Artw at 6:01 PM on March 26, 2012


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