Bully MPAA Protest Becomes a Movement

ascentiveCyberbullying news from the Ascentive team

“BULLY,” the highly anticipated anti-bullying documentary (in theaters March 30th), has sparked a protest and now a movement, as a number of major movie stars, theater owners, and Members of Congress have joined forces to protest the film’s R rating. In a clear triumph for the film, Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Theaters, one of the most prominent theater chains in the world, 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.”

Mr. Lopez is one of almost 300,000 people to get behind a petition started by a junior in high school named Katy Butler. Ms. Butler, who has experienced severe bullying herself, started the petition on Change.org after the MPAA ruled by one vote that  “Bully” should receive an R rating due to six swear words. When Mr. Lopez asked one of his sons about the film, curious as to whether the debate had reached the demographic the film is geared toward, his son had already signed onto Ms. Butler’s petition.

The support from Hollywood has been on a steady increase since Katy Butler launched her petition. On March 20, Meryl Streep and her daughter Mamie Gummer will co-host a screening of the film with David Boies, one of the two attorneys responsible for overturning Proposition 8 in California, and his daughter, Mary Boies.  The screening will be held in New York City.

Johnny Depp has also signed on to lend his support; Ellen DeGeneres has devoted time to the film on her television show; and in the sports arena, Drew Brees, quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, has also added his voice to the movement.  Kelly Ripa and Anderson Cooper came on board as news anchor partners, hosting a screening in New York City last week, that was presented by Bing, the search engine from Microsoft. In addition to the screening in NYC, Bing will also be supporting the film in a number of ways, including hosting an additional screening in LA.

Iconic American designer Tommy Hilfiger will design an exclusive t-shirt inspired by the Bully movie poster which will be sold in Tommy Hilfiger stores with a portion of proceeds benefiting Facing History and Ourselves (http://www.facing.org/). Mr. Hilfiger is the first of ten designers that The Weinstein Company will ask to donate their services on behalf of the fundraising effort.  IMG, renowned global sports, fashion and media agency continues to support the film in a number of ways, and famed photographer David LaChapelle has offered to donate his talents towards an advertising campaign.

In Congress, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) issued a bipartisan letter to the MPAA, supporting Katy Butler’s petition, to urge former Senator Dodd, now Chairman of the MPAA, to overturn the ruling. Over 20 Members of Congress have signed on to the letter. The political engagement continues to grow this week while Congress is in District Work Session, with additional support coming from the Senate. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called for a PG-13 rating on Twitter today, and has told The Weinstein Company she intends to play a more active role in this protest.

Last Friday, Justin Bieber joined the cause, telling his fans on Twitter about the movie and encouraging them to stand up for each other. He is currently working with The Weinstein Company on how he can do more for the film.

“We’ve got the MPAA’s attention, and with nearly 300,000 signatures and support from celebrities and politicians, there’s now a national movement of people calling on the MPAA to drop the ‘R’ rating for ‘Bully,'” Katy Butler said. “As someone who lived through bullying day in and day out in school, including having my finger broken by bullies, this film is too important to silence with an ‘R’ rating. Everyone should have a chance to see ‘Bully.'”

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