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Arts and Entertainment

Teen Continues Effort to Change 'R' Rating on Bullying Documentary

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Director Lee Hirsch's new documentary, "Bully," deals with the repercussions of students tormenting their classmates and peers. It follows kids who are being targeted by other kids, and families who have lost children to suicide provoked by bullying.

The people who might benefit most from a movie like this are kids themselves, but unfortunately, most of them won't be able to watch it -- the MPAA has assigned the movie an "R" rating because of the frequency of swear words (you know...during the bullying).

In response, a 17-year-old girl from Michigan collected 225,000 signatures on to try to convince the MPAA that the rating wasn't fair. Having been bullied herself, Katy Butler said in an interview with KTLA that if kids could see this movie, "it could save their lives."

After collecting the signatures, Butler brought them to the MPAA's offices in Sherman Oaks yesterday, reports the LA Times. But after listening to her plea, the ratings governing body decided to keep the "R" rating in place, in order to "be consistnent. In a statement, they wrote:

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"Katy Butler's efforts in bringing the issue of bullying to the forefront of a national discussion in the context of this new film are commendable and we welcome the feedback about this movie's rating. The MPAA shares Katy's goals of shining a light on the problem of bullying and we hope that her efforts will fuel more discussion among educators, parents, and children... The R rating is not a judgment on the value of any movie. The rating simply conveys to parents that a film has elements strong enough to require careful consideration before allowing their children to view it. Once advised, many parents may take their kids to see an R-rated film."

At the same time that Butler was gathering her signatures, Harvey Weinstein, whose company Wenstein Co. is distributing the film, was waging his own campaign to get the rating changed (which may or may not have been part of a publicity stunt). Regardless, many people seem to agree with Butler and with Weinstein (PR stunt or not), and the latest person to lend her support is Ellen DeGeneres.

The talk show host applauded Butler's efforts on her show yesterday, where Butler was a member of the audience. Standing on the stage, DeGeneres told Butler, “Good for you! I’m proud of you!”

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