Teen collects 200,000 signatures to change bullying movie's rating
A high school student from Michigan landed in Los Angeles on Tuesday with plans to personally deliver more than 200,000 petition signatures to the Motion Picture Assn. of America urging it to change the rating of an upcoming documentary about bullying from “R” to “PG-13.”
Katy Butler, 17, has led the charge to ensure that people in her age group who most need to see the film “Bully” can do so without a parent sitting nearby. Her online petition currently has about 215,000 signatures, all of which she plans to hand over Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the MPAA office in Sherman Oaks.
The film, directed by Lee Hirsch, is to be released in theaters March 30.
The issue of bullying hits home for Butler, who was harassed as a seventh-grader after she self-identified as a lesbian. A group of male students broke her finger when they slammed her locker door on her hand.
“It was absolutely horrible,” Butler said. “I still think about it.”
Butler’s effort comes on the heels of a formal appeal by Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. is distributing the film. In February, Weinstein unsuccessfully appealed the MPAA's rating decision.
Adult language is responsible for the R-rating, according to a statement from the MPAA ratings board chief, Joan Graves.
“The R rating is not a judgment on the value of any movie,” Graves wrote on the MPAA’s blog. “The rating simply conveys to parents that a film has elements strong enough to require careful consideration before allowing their children to view it."
Butler said she saw the movie in an early screening over the weekend and cried while watching. She said the language should be left alone.
“The language in the movie is what is used in schools,” she said. “No one goes into school and bleeps out what people say.
“I think it’s really important that kids who are bullied see this movie. They need to know that they’re not alone.”
-- Matt Stevens
Photo: Teen anti-bullying activist Katy Butler. Credit: Katy Butler