Reddit stands up for “Bully” documentary

Being bullied is something users of the social news site Reddit know something about.

That’s why they’ve thrown their support behind a petition to have the rating for Bully, a new documentary film due in theaters on March 9, changed from R to PG-13.

The film follows students from Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Iowa who were bullied on an almost daily basis during the 2009-2010 school year.

The Change.org petition asking the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to lower the films rating was started by Katy Butler, a junior at Greenhills High School in Michigan, who “endured brutal bullying when she was in middle school,” reported the Minot Daily News. Butler wrote on the petition:

“When I was in 7th grade, a few guys came up behind me while putting my books in my locker. They called me names and asked me why I even bothered to show my face at school because no one liked me. I ignored them because I was scared of what else they might say and who else they might tell if I stood up to them. When I went to shut my locker, they pushed me against the wall. Then they slammed my locker shut on my hand, breaking my fourth finger. I held back tears while I watched them run away laughing. I didn’t know what to do so I stood there, alone and afraid.”

The petition has collected more than 134,000 electronic signatures, about 16,000 short of its goal. The comments on the petition are similar to those on Reddit, with people sharing their heartfelt stories of being bullied.

“As a child I was moved around a lot, and was always ‘the new kid’ and was often the target of bullying,” commented zakuroenosakura on Reddit. “I was beat with pool cues, slammed into walls hard enough to leave a dent, and had fair-sized rocks thrown at my head. Eventually I said fuck it and put a boy in the hospital. I am very lucky that no consequences came my way because of it.”

Update: Joan Graves, chairman of the classification and rating administration for the MPAA, provided the following comment.

“Bullying is a serious issue and is an important subject that parents should discuss with their children. The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that Bully can serve as a vehicle for such important discussion.

The Rating Board has assigned Bully an R-rating for “some language,” not as an indicator of the quality of the film, but in order to provide parents with adequate information on the level of content contained in the film.

The R rating does not mean that children cannot see the film. As with any movie, parents will decide if the film is appropriate for their child’s viewing. School districts, similarly, handle the determination of showing movies on a case-by-case basis and have their own guidelines for parental approval.”

Fernando Alfonso III

Fernando Alfonso III

Fernando Alfonso III served as an early Reddit and 4chan reporter and the Daily Dot’s first art director until 2016. He’s gone on to report at Lexington’s Herald-Leader and at the Houston Chronicle.