msnbc | March 14, 2012
>>> some kids told him he's worthless to hang himselfment i think he got to the point where enough was enough.
>> a tragic situation.
>> a perkins boy believed to have been desperate enough to take his own life.
>> here what we get is nothing is wrong, we didn't do anything. everything is fine.
>> punch me, strangle me. take things from me. sit on me.
>> give it to him.
>> he's not safe on that bus.
>> i've been on that bus. they are just as good as gold.
>> such a powerful clip from the r-rated film bully. unfortunately, that rating will keep kids from seeing it. now, activists, lawmakers and celebrity, meryl streep , johnny depp , they want the motion picture association of america to make this film pg-13. but will that happen before the film opens nationally on march 30th ? bully filmmaker lee hirsch is here in studio with me. great to have you here. congratulations on the process and the product that you've put out there. obviously the plim is gfilm it getting a lot of attention because of the rating it was getting. just seeing that clip, the boy featured, one of the children featured, the abuse that he suffers is infuriating. you krur self-admit you were bullied as a kid. as a filmmaker, did you ever want to jump in there and save this kid from the crap he was getting from these other kids?
>> first of all, thanks for having me. yeah. absolutely. i mean, i think the whole film was a giant act of wanting to jump in there. the whole film is an act of intervention on behalf of kids that get bullied every day across our country that suffer in silence. really, you know, we did intervene with the school, with the parents, the whole chain of events. there's lots and lots and lots of kids dealing with this. i think this film gives them a voice.
>> the scenes are not really fueling the r-rating. the language in the film is fueling the r-rating. according to the mpaa, they felt it was strong enough language to give it an r-rating. many other movies with more profanity are labeled with pg-13. how have they explained to you why this was given an r?
>> they don't give you explanation. it's incredibly secretive. they will just say, sorry. this is a decision. it was for language. we can't tell you any more about the process. it's a very, very secretive process. you're right, the sort of morality judgment is so odd. they'll say all this violence, gratuitous violence, glorification of violence is fine and then they look at our film and give it an r. it's heartbreaking and sort of infuriating and it's really, i think, what's helped rally so much support to this film, which has just been awesome.
>> there's a young girl name katie butler started an online petition to get the rating changed. i interviewed her and i asked what she thought about cleaning up the film. this is what she said.
>> taking out the language in the movie is taking away from the message. the message is so strong. the language in this movie is a language that kids hear every day. the language that kid are bullied with. if we go in and take it out, it's definitely taking away from that. no one goes into schools and edit out the language that kids hear in schools. it doesn't happen.
>> so to sanitize this film would ruin it?
>> no one can say it better than katie who lives it, in the moment, in high school , who experiences bullying. it's absolutely true. if you take out the language, you further minimize the experience that kids deal with when they're bullied. if we don't allow those scenes, if we don't allow the experience to be what it is, then we're cutting out that experience for the audience and also saying to the kids, one more time you have to have that experience silenced. you have to modify, edit, not be dealt with as if you've really gotten through something that's very traumatic. to me, it's egregious.
>> this goes behind the curtain of what it's like in this iowa school. it's a great movie. you're giving voice to the voiceless for thousands of kids. you're probably never going to know their names or faces, but you're a big help to all of them. bully filmmaker, lee hirish. check out the bully project.com and facebook.com/bully movie. lee, thanks again.