Yesterday the MPAA announced that the rating of the movie Bully was adjusted from an R rating to PG-13. When reading this news, one would hope that the catalyst for this action came from the clear need for giving access to this movie to the audience who needs it most - but the truth was the only reason it was changed was because the movie removed three curse words. Three curse words. Yes, that’s right, three curse words was the difference between allowing a powerful and important documentary to be shown to the audience that most needs to see it, and blocking them from that access.
Before the ratings system created the PG-13 rating, everything was really broken into four buckets. G, M (now PG) R, or X. Basically the first two meant you could see it with your friends, the last two meant you couldn’t. Now the nuances and politics that go into the decision are shrouded in mystery, and the few battles that take place lead by "renegade" directors are producers are showing movie-goers, that the real bullies in this discussion may actually be the MPAA and their arbitrary and often times ridiculous decisions.
I watched the movie Babies and saw a full on birth scene from the bottom up. Now I’m not going to argue about if the beauty of natural childbirth should be shielded or exposed to the general public (I’ll leave that to you guys), but that movie was rated PG. The MPAA thought it was appropriate for the same audience that watches Shrek to see a woman deliver a child. In my mind, if that's how this stuff nets out, it's pretty clear that we have outgrown the system and it's time for an overhaul.
Because lets be honest, if a 14-year-old can't see the actions in a movie like Bully on screen, yet they can be forced to live through them on a school bus every day of their lives, and the only thing that separates those two events are the removal of the word "fuck" three times, frankly, we have a problem.