March 14, 2012

The Bully Project: Oprah Can You Hear Me?

 Where’s Oprah Winfrey when you need her?

In the good old days, if Oprah had heard about the plight of the film Bully, she would have screened the film for her studio audience, and invited the filmmaker and cast for a sit down interview and audience discussion. By the end of the show the studio audience, and viewers at home, would be ready to storm the MPAA offices. The MPAA would feel the wrath of the Oprah Effect, and change the rating on the spot.


Come out - come out - wherever you are! Where are you hiding these days Ms. Winfrey? Are you in Santa Barbara eating bon bons and sipping chardonnay? Or working on one of your media properties? We need you!

Justin Bieber is a big star in some quarters, so it’s good that he’s jumped on the Bully band-wagon I suppose. Justin saw the film Bully and took to twitter - and told his fans that “we need to stand up for each other.” In other Canadian news (the Bieber is Canadian - nice segue huh!), the Film Ratings Board of Canada gave Bully a PG-13 rating.

Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, have called on the MPAA to give the correct rating to the film Bully, and 27 members of Congress have signed a letter authored by California Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), that’s addressed to Senator Dodd and the MPAA. His letter reads in part:

Over 13 million American youths will be bullied over the course of this year alone, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in our nation. We cannot hope to control this epidemic and make our neighborhoods safer for our youth without discussing tough issues publicly and bringing them to the forefront of the consciousness of the American public.

The current Change.org petition being circulated by Michigan high school junior Katy Butler has attracted over 267,000 signatures to date calling upon the MPAA to reconsider and change the R-rating to PG-13. Creating impediments for millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change – and in some cases, save – their lives, seems unreasonable to us. In support of this sentiment, and on behalf of the youth and families who suffer the direct and indirect effects of bullying, we believe that this film should be made available to the audiences to which this is most pertinent, present and urgent.

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Theaters, spoke out against the R-Rating, saying, "To 'automatically default' BULLY is a mistake. Automatic default to a rating, a category, a genre... doesn't matter, is a mistake.  The message, the movie and its social relevance defy that kind of formulaic, conventional thinking. AMC will show this movie, and we invite our guests to engage in the dialogue its relevant message will inevitably provoke."

The MPAA and The Weinstein Company are coming together for a day, to screen the film in Washington, DC for educators and school principals, and there will be a post-screening panel discussion with MPAA Chairman Senator Chris Dodd, Harvey Weinstein, Bully Director Lee Hirsch, DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and Dr. Joseph Wright, Senior Vice President and head of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington.

I hope that something positive comes out of the Washington, DC screening.

At the same time, an organization that calls itself The Parents Television Council, issued a statement in support of the MPAA and the “R” rating. The Parents Television Council has not seen the movie. The Christian news website onenewsnow.com reports:  

There has been a growing protest arguing that the documentary about the rising problem of bullying in America should be given a PG-13 rating instead of R. But Melissa Henson with the Parents Television Council says there is a good deal of profanity in the film -- and she points out that just because a movie is rated R does not mean teenagers, the target audience of this documentary, cannot watch it.

"I think there's a tendency for some to sort of conflate the R rating with the NC-17 rating," she explains to OneNewsNow. "An NC-17 rating would mean that a child would not be able to go into see it under any circumstances. But an R rating means that if a parent wishes for the child to see the film, they can take the child themselves; and the child can watch the movie as long as they're supervised by an adult -- and I think that's appropriate."
Henson believes the anti-bullying film is an important message for some kids to see with an adult by their side.

The Parents Television Council family TV guide for parents reflects that every show on the major networks in prime time, from 3/9/12 to 3/15/12 either “contains adult-oriented themes and dialogue that may be inappropriate for youngsters,” or the “show may include gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content, or obscene language, and is unsuitable for children.” Only ONE network show is considered a “family-friendly show promoting responsible themes and traditional values.” That show is NBC’s genealogy related program Who Do You Think You Are?

Parents Television Council calls Will & Grace indecent.
Whenever I see that an organization is promoting “traditional values,” it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up, because those code words usually translate to Republican  right-wing extremists. I’d like to know whose traditional values are they promoting. 

This organization wrote this about Will and Grace. “This show continues to rely on indecency as a source of edginess and thus will continue to to rank among the worst shows for family audiences.” Will and Grace was indecent?

Oprah can you hear me? Please help!


PS: The petition is just shy of 300,000 signatures. If you haven’t signed it, please take a moment to sign it now! Thank you!


straight talk in a queer world.


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