Katy Butler, a high school student in Michigan, has circulated a petition to change the MPAA’s rating of the Weinstein Company’s Bully, a documentary about high-school bullying. “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,” writes Ms. Butler, after a description of having her finger broken in middle school by a group of boys.
The petition at the time of this writing has 86,978 signatories–a total that, if they all went to see Bully on its opening weekend, would represent a significant boon for the Weinstein Company. The production house has threatened to leave the MPAA over the rating. We’ve reached out to Ms. Butler for comment as to how she became aware of the film, and will update if she responds.
UPDATE: Ms. Butler called The Observer after her school day and before homework to talk briefly about the petition, which she says she began after becoming aware of the film and its ratings battle on her own. “I get a lot of emails around bullying because I worked on the Michigan Antibullying Policy in November of last year, so I’ve been really involved in all the bullying things.” She watched clips of the film online and began the petition yesterday, at which point Change.org sent the petition to its email list as a highlighted cause. The 85,000-plus signatories followed quickly.
The film’s director, Lee Hirsch, called Ms. Butler on the phone today to thank her, though she had less luck contacting the MPAA: “They are very hard to get a hold of.”
Ms. Butler, a high-school junior, said of her future plans: “I want to go to college in the near future–it’s pretty exciting!–and I want to do political activism.”
Reached for comment, a representative for the MPAA directed us to a blog post reading in part: “The voluntary ratings system enables parents to make an informed decision about what content they allow their children to see in movies. The R rating and description of “some language” for Bully does not mean that children cannot see the film. As with any movie, parents will decide if they want their children to see Bully.”