MPAA Stops Picking On 'Bully', Actually Gets Some Good Press For Once

from the backing-down dept

When the producers of the documentary Bully decided to protest the MPAA rating system, and then AMC supported them by announcing they would screen the unrated film, I wrote about how it represented a serious erosion of the MPAA's artificial grip on film ratings. Since then, the MPAA has softened on the issue, and agreed to grant a PG-13 rating to a slightly-edited version of the movie:

The change was made following the removal of several instances of the F-word, but leaving intact a particularly powerful and important scene of teen Alex Libby being bullied and harassed on a bus. In a press release, distributor The Weinstein Company lauded the MPAA's decision, calling it a victory "for the parents, educators, lawmakers, and most importantly, children, everywhere who have been fighting for months for the appropriate PG-13 rating without cutting some of the most sensitive moments."

Well, that's probably the nicest thing a non-member has said about the MPAA in awhile. Harvey Weinstein himself said "Senator Dodd is a hero for championing this cause", conjuring up images of the mighty MPAA CEO carving through hordes of busybodies from the Parents Television Council. But while Chris Dodd is surely happy for some good press, his recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter (the one in which he dropped vague hints about the return of SOPA) suggests the MPAA's decision may have been primarily personal:

THR: Why did you host a screening of Bully at the MPAA with Harvey Weinstein when The Weinstein Co. isn't a member company?

Dodd: Because I care about the issue, and I thought it was a great film. I called Harvey, and I said I would invite the superintendent of schools, teachers and principals, an expert on bullying and Lee Hirsch, the director. We had a great discussion after the screening. You're right, Harvey is not a member of the MPAA, but he's a brilliant film producer, and it's an important film on an important subject matter. It is utilizing the platform I was given at the MPAA.

THR: But Weinstein was highly critical of the ratings board at the time and has used his attacks against the board to market the movie.

Dodd: First of all, I've known Harvey for 25, 30 years, and we've been friends. He was very helpful to me as a candidate for Congress and as a senator over the years.

There's no "second of all" forthcoming. He was just "utilizing the platform" he was "given" to do favors for his friends. It's nice to see that he's still putting the skill-set he perfected in politics to good use as a lobbyist.

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  1. icon
    Leigh Beadon (profile), 9 Apr 2012 @ 1:09pm

    Re: This is STILL bad...

    Well, it's not really censorship. This isn't a free speech issue - the government is not involved. Studios can release whatever films they want, at whatever rating or without a rating at all - the MPAA is a private group that gives out ratings, but you don't have to work with them. The problem is that most cinemas cooperate, and won't show unrated films - but, again, it's entirely voluntary: there's no law or government entity blocking their right to show whatever movies they want. They simply choose not to almost all of the time - which is why it was news that AMC announced it would air the unrated film.

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