A Michigan high school student's online petition asking the MPAA to change its R rating of The Weinstein Co.'s documentary "Bully" to PG-13 has amassed more than 100,000 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
Last week, the MPAA upheld its ruling that “Bully,” a documentary about kids dealing with bullying and violence, should have an R rating due to its language — in this case, epithets hurled at a 13-year-old.
In a letter posted to Change.org along with her petition, Katy Butler wrote about her own experiences with being bullied in 7th grade.
“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,” Butler wrote. “Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?”
Harvey Weinstein — joined by Alex Libby, one of the young victims portrayed in the film — last week made a similar argument before the MPAA's ratings board, noting that the R rating would keep the film away from school kids, its target audience.
Joan Graves, head of MPAA's Classification and Ratings Administration board, disputed in a blog post on the MPAA site that the R rating would prevent kids from seeing "Bully."
“This is not true. In fact, many other R-rated movies on important topics, such as ‘Schindler’s List,’ have been screened in schools and viewed by children accompanied by their parents," Graves wrote.
“The voluntary ratings system enables parents to make an informed decision about what content they allow their children to see in movies," the blog continued.
After learning of the board's decision, Weinstein said last week in a statement that "The Weinstein Company is considering a leave of absence from the MPAA for the foreseeable future. We respect the MPAA and their process but feel this time it has just been a bridge too far."
The company is not a member of the MPAA but does submit its movies to the association to be rated. It is now considering whether to stop doing so for a time.