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Michigan student aims to change 'Bully' film rating so kids can watch

March 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A high school student from Michigan wants to change the rating of a documentary about bullying from R to PG-13 so more teenagers can watch the film.

The documentary "Bully" hopes to shine a bright light on the much-too-common reality of bullying. But according to Katy Butler, that light will never be turned on.

"By rating this movie R, we're not only preventing kids from actually seeing the movie, but they feel like their lives are being rated R," said Butler.

The teen is challenging that R rating, which was given by the Motion Picture Association.

Wednesday, flanked by an entourage from the website Change.org, Butler arrived to the MPAA offices in Sherman Oaks with over 200,000 signatures, all to get the rating on the documentary changed to PG-13.

"We want the MPAA to change the rating so these kids can see it so we can help save their lives," said Butler.

Like many kids featured in the movie, Butler was bullied herself when she came out as a lesbian in middle school.

"They taunted me and bullied me and harassed me almost every day. It got to the point where I didn't want to go to school anymore. Eventually, I had my hand slammed in my locker, and they broke my finger," said Butler.

The MPAA says their hands are tied since an appeals board recently upheld the rating of the movie. However, they say kids can still see it.

"Unfortunately, there is a misconception about the R rating of this film limiting the audience to adults. This is not true. In fact, many other R-rated movies on important topics, such as 'Schindler's List,' have been screened in schools and viewed by children accompanied by their parents," the MPAA said in a statement.

Butler says that's not good enough.

"It's a totally different experience to have a 13-year-old go to the movies with their parents, or have a 13-year-old go to the movies with their four best friends and then talk about the movie afterwards," explained Butler.

It's unclear what the MPAA will do after receiving all of Butler's signatures, but their board was just one vote shy of changing the rating to PG-13 when the votes were collected a few weeks ago. The director of the movie, Lee Hirsch, believes the rating should be changed.

He said he hopes "this grassroots miracle by Butler will reach the hearts and minds of the people of MPAA."

"Bully" is set to be released March 30.

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