Celebs like Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep and Ellen DeGeneres have rallied for the Motion Picture Association of America to lower the R rating of the 2012 film, "Bully."
The Lee Hirsch documentary depicts the troubling trend of bullying in schools across America and garnered the restricted rating due to the depiction of real-life language used by bullies.
Michigan high school student and bullying victim Katy Butler started a petition on Change.org to get the MPAA to lower the rating to PG-13, so that more teens can see the film. At press time, the petition had been signed by 299,163 supporters, including 26 Congress members.
"We are writing to express our sincere disappointment in the MPAA's decision to issue an 'R' rating for the soon-to-be-released documentary Bully," the advocacy website Change.org said in a statement. "This important project shows the real life anguish of many teenagers in this country who are tormented, harassed, and bullied by their peers. This truth should be shared with as wide an audience as is appropriate and possible. We believe an R-rating excludes the very audience for whom this film is desperately important."
The Weinstein Company said that Depp, Streep and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees have all shown their support for the film. The cause has also drawn the attention of DeGeneres, Depp, Streep, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber.
"Just watched the #BULLY movie. really intense. really powerful. we need to stand up for each other," Bieber Tweeted on March 9.
DeGeneres spoke about the documentary on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" last week and said, "the lessons that the kids learn from this movie are more important than any words that they might hear and they're words that they already know anyway."
The Weinstein Company appealed the rating but it has been upheld by the MPAA, which dictates film ratings.
"We respect the viewpoints of members of Congress and the public and Hollywood celebrities who care deeply about an issue that is troubling our nation," MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman said in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
"Bully" is slated to hit theaters on March 30. Watch the trailer below.