The “F” word remains in the film “Bully”, but not quite as often.
The change from five “F”s to three, plus a high profile campaign, has led the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to downgrade the film’s initial ‘R’ rating to a ‘PG-13’ rating.
The documentary’s most controversial scene remains intact, profanity included. It’s the one in which a 12 year old is bullied and ridiculed during a ride on a school bus. Lee Hirsch, the director of “Bully,” told the Daily News, “This was the scene that carried all of the emotional weight of the movie, the language was so representative of the experience of bullying and I would not budge.”
The film was released in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles last weekend without a rating, after the distributors, The Weinstein Co, refused to label it with the ‘R’ rating the MPAA had given it.
Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest, and Ricky Martin spoke out against the ‘R’ rating. And an online petition drive asking for the MPAA to change the rating to PG-13, started by high school student Katy Butler, gathered over a half a million signatures.
The movie will be released nationwide on April 13. The new rating will mean that children can see the film without an accompanying parent or adult guardian, though “Some Material may be Inappropriate for Children Under 13,” according to the MPAA’s standards.
The documentary follows the lives of five bullied children, in different schools and states, during the 2009 to 2010 school year. It has received a 93% rating from the critics at RottenTomatoes.com, and an 87% “liked it” rating from movie goers.