Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wherein I Ask The Musical Question "Are You KIDDING Me?"

Every once in a while I get serious on this blog and this is one of those onces.  I have not read or seen The Hunger Games but I'd have to be living under a rock to miss what it's about.  I have also not seen Bully but I, like a lot of people, lived being bullied in school so I'm pretty sure I don't actually need to see it to have a notion of what it's about.  This is one of those rare cases where having seen the source material is truly immaterial to outrage.  Stick with me, I do indeed have a point and there are spoilers ahoy. 

Enty over at Crazy Days And Nights reported yesterday that the producers of Bully are releasing it without a rating at all rather than knuckling under to the Motion Picture Association of America and swallowing an R rating.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the MPAA's particular brand of lack of perspective R stands for "Restricted" and means that anyone under 17 can't see it without a parent or guardian.  While movie theatres are pretty lax about it (I've never known them to actually check ID and spackling on enough make up to get in has been a right of passage for decades) what it REALLY means is that it won't be shown in middle, junior and senior high know to the kids who make up the cast and are the target audience.  The reason for this is that there are a couple of F-bombs and, good gravy Mabel, we can't have that.  Kids can sure talk about getting the shit kicked out of them but by God they'd better do it without any coarse language.  Did I say lack of perspective?  I think I meant lunacy.  There are those who have made the point -- the producers of Bully among them -- that The Hunger Games has a PG-13 rating, meaning that it's just jim dandy for the same middle, junior and high school kids to see a movie about kids competing for food and KILLING EACH OTHER for the entertainment of adults.  Did I say lunacy?  I think I meant cynicism.

Here's my question.  Do you think that the MPAA is acting in good faith here or are they being bullies?  Bullies really are hateful but in this case do they have a point that I'm missing?  Comments are open. 


  1. I would say a third option -- neither acting "in good faith", which would imply some belief in what they are doing, nor bullying, which would imply malice, but simply defending an arbitrary standard, which, if they don't defend it, becomes meaningless as a standard. That the standard is practically meaningless in the sense that you cite (every kid knows how to get into movies above their age range) doesn't make it meaningless from the perspective of the bureaucracy that created it.

  2. I agree the MPAA is not really consistent however much they may think they are. But if the producers of Bully had taken the R, kids would have been fighting to see it. Would have been a great marketing ploy. But a movie shown at school? It will just be one more thing the adults make them endure and receive a ho hum.

  3. I hate to mention this'll see. TMZ posted a sound clip the other day of Justin Bieber (see that's why I hated to mention) applauding the makers of Bully for not backing down and re-editing the film to take out the parts that made it an R rating. I don't much like Bieber but he had good points and was relatively well spoken about the issue. He too mentioned the Hunger Games point that you made. I was pleasantly surprised considering he is currently haggling over the purchase price of a mansion. Would educators have shown the movie with an R rating? No I don't think so. Well they show it now that its unrated? Unfortunately, the answer is still no. So I kinda gotta give the makers of Bully props for not compromising the vision they had for their movie just to get a different rating

  4. In my country it's obvious. Yes, children can see how people kill themselves brutally,but not when they create a new life,God forbid!

  5. Now that I think of it, this may just be a great marketing ploy anyway. LOL! What better way to get kids into this than to make it titillating; otherwise, it's just one of umpteen "bully programs" they've been run through at school. Yeah, I'm thinking this is brilliant marketing. Yes, I'm jaded, but my gut says I'm right. Hide and watch the reaction from kids. R or unrated, it's now going to get kids' attention since the skirmish has been splashed across tv and youtube.

    1. That crossed my mind but if it was just for marketing wouldn't they have beeped the words after they got the attention? I want to think at least someone in all this has a pure motive.

  6. I don't set my trust in any control institutes.
    I saw a Japanese animated film in the cinema, rated for age-group 4 and above, where the lead character, a boy of perhaps 16 years (age a bit unclear) right at the beginning kills his father (for no reason given at all - They forgot to translate a song and perhaps that contained the solution, but as it was, there was no reason at all for this cold blooded and calculated murder right at the beginning of the film.)
    I don’t want to have to explain something like this to 4 year old kids watching the film.
    The control must have seen – nicely drawn animated film by a studio known for their kids films and just forgot to check what the film really was about.

  7. Thanks for the replies, guys. I think my question is what, exactly, does the MPAA think they're protecting kids from? Do they really think that language is worse than a beatdown? Do they really think that kids who are being bullied haven't heard these words?

  8. I don't think what they're doing is about practical outcome, I think it's about maintaining their own institutionality.

  9. I think you're probably right, Kurbiss, and how sad is that?


Thanks for commenting!