Wednesday, March 28, 2012
AMC Theatres Will Show Unrated 'Bully' To Kids With Permission - PTC Gets Mad
Warning - The word "fuck" is used generously in this post.
We recently brought you the news about the MPAA giving the documentary Bully an 'R' rating. In that story we also gave you examples of the movies they said did not warrant an 'R'. What it comes down to is that the MPAA believes it's okay for kids 13 and under to see other kids hunt other kids in a reality show (The Hunger Games), but hearing the word "Fuck" said more than once will damage them for life.
Believing that the documentary is too important not to be seen by kids, The Weinstein Company has decided to release the movie unrated in the hopes that theater chains will still be willing to show the movie.
AMC Theatres decided that Bully is important and decided that they will show the movie. Not only show it, but kids can see the movie if they are accompanied by a parent/guardian, OR if they bring a permission slip from their parents. That's right, a theater chain believes that this documentary is so important, they are willing to make an exception to their policy.
You would think that this would be a great thing. Sadly that is not the case. The Parents Television Council (PTC) is up in arms about this exception being made. They released another manifesto (statement) about how they are the only ones that know what's best for kids.
This move, regardless of intentions, sets a precedent that threatens to derail the entire ratings system. If a distribution company can simply decide to operate outside of the ratings system in a case like Bully, nothing would prevent future filmmakers from doing precisely the same thing, with potentially much more problematic material.
It is unfortunate that the serious problem of schoolyard and online bullying is being overshadowed by a misguided and manufactured controversy over the MPAA rating. It’s even more unfortunate that the MPAA ratings system, which only exists as a tool to help parents make informed viewing decisions for their own families, is being deliberately undermined by Weinstein and his colleagues in the entertainment industry, and that their efforts may well spell the demise of a system that has benefited parents and families for over forty years.
Either ratings mean something, or they don’t. The MPAA’s job is not to make subjective judgments about the merit of a film or the importance of the film’s message. The MPAA’s sole task is to take an objective measure of the adult content in a film, and apply the appropriate rating. Though the MPAA’s system is not perfect, it has been remarkably consistent at least in this regard: any more than a single “sexual expletive” (usually the “F-word”) will lead to an R-rating. Bully employs multiple uses of this “sexual expletive,” and that is why it was given an R-rating.
It is time for a thoughtful reimagining of the entire movie ratings system. What parents need and have the right to expect from the MPAA is more clarity, more consistency, more predictability in the ratings system; not a system that is gamed to pick winners and losers or that changes criteria to suit a particular – even noble – point of view.
I am really trying to understand how, or why, they would take a stand against AMC showing this movie.
In their statement the let it be known that the MPAA is all powerful and wise, then go on to say, "If a distribution company can simply decide to operate outside the ratings system in a case like Bully, nothing would prevent future filmmakers from doing precisely the same thing, with potentially much more problematic material."
What on earth do they think theatre chains are going to start showing to kids? Is AMC going to offer permission slips to see The Human Centipede 3?
Their argument is so flawed that it only shows how their organizations complaints have no merit.
In their statement, the PTC uses only one sentence to mention that the movie is about bullying, then use the rest to talk about the need to protect kids. They talk about ratings as if they are the one thing that is keeping the country from falling in to anarchy. The PTC themselves say that, "the system is not perfect". It is because of this imperfection that the Weinstein's and AMC are figuring out what to do to get this message out to kids.
This decision by AMC is not to undermine the choice parents have about what their kids see. If anything, this will actually make them talk to their kids about what they are seeing.
How many parents took their kids this past weekend to see The Hunger Games because their kids loved the book. (In no way am I saying it was an evil movie. I loved it.) That film was rated PG-13 and showed characters as young as 12 being hunted for entertainment.
Again, violence is okay, just not the word "fuck".
That is all that has everyone up in arms. The word "fuck". That is the one word that, according to the MPAA and PTC, will lead to the fall of western civilization if we willingly let kids hear it. Guess what PTC and MPAA, your kids hear it everyday. They say it too. Bully just happens to shine the light on the real damage that's happening to kids.
Instead, the PTC has decided to make this movie about how they know what's best. If their professional bullying organization truly cares about what's best for kids, why not support the way this is being handled by AMC. Parents, either come with your kids or research the movie and sign the permission slip for them to come. That is real parenting.
Please join us in asking AMC not to cave to the bullying from the PTC. You can contact AMC at https://getsatisfaction.com/amc_theatres or via Twitter. Let them know how important it is that Bully is shown, and that you support them.
If you are allowing your child to see the movie at one of the AMC theatres showing Bully, you can download the permission slip here.
You can find out more about Bully by visiting the official web site: www.thebullyproject.com
What say you?