msnbc | April 01, 2012
>>> the battle to rate the film "bully" is making headlines again. the acclaimed documentary which opened friday in limited release profiles a group of families whose children are abused by other kids. there's word the other film may be recut and that is raising concerns about its impact. joining me on set is cynthia lohan, the producer and writer of "bully." in philadelphia, katie butler, who launched an online petition to change its rating to pg-13. glad to have you here. thank you. cynthia , talk about the mpaa, which gave "bully" this r rating . it was released unrated on friday by the weinstein company . now you have these calls. why the change? is it merely because of the amount of profanity used?
>> we are not planning to recut the film. we feel the language in this film accurately depict what is 13 million american kids are going through in school on their buses every year in this country.
>> so is the " l.a. times " wrong?
>> we are not intending to recut the film.
>> can it be done without your permission?
>> no. the weinstein company would have to agree that that was what they intended to do, and at this point we have made the decision to release the film unrated because we feel like we have heard from almost half a million people on katie butler's bep/e tigs on change.org. we've been hearing from administrator, teachers, kids who say this is what we're experiencing, this is our reality, please don't gloss it over, please don't sensor it. we want the story to be heard. it is our story and get it out there.
>> katie , you're hearing directly from the producer herself and the writer of the piece, "bully." tell me why you want to change this rating and raise the national consciousness about it this way.
>> well, i think the rating definitely should be changed so that kids can see this movie because the middle school and high school koids are the target audience, because those are the kids who go through these things every day. and like she was saying, if the language is removed and it is changed, it's taking away from a really powerful message that the movie has to offer.
>> i understand you've seen this film five times. tell me what you have taken away from this.
>> well, every time i see this movie , i cry because it is such a powerful message. and i can connect so personally to it, and i know so many other kids can, also.
>> so, katy , you want the film changed but i ask you, cynthia , are kids able to see a film that has no rating? they can be taken with their parents as well.
>> what katj saying is she wants them to consider the r rating and give it a pg-13 rating. in lieu of that, we will continue to have the film out there unrated. we've been getting an incredible amount of support from amc theaters who have made this film accessible to young people to come see it. they have a permission slip online. they're accepting written permission. i think what we're depending on is for educators to look to guidance such as provided by change -- by commonsense media that's given this a pg-13 rating as is the same rating give on the "hunger games" and to really use their judgment in terms of bringing this into their communities and listening to so many of the voices from educators, from adults who think that this is something that is absolutely something that kids can handle.
>> and we can appreciate that you, you are very close to this film, this is your baby so, to speak. but katy , you have gotten a fair amount of signatures in terms of thousands of people. you've got celebrities. we have ellen, meryl streep lending their support to you, as well. is there a way to re-edit this film for a pg-13 rating that you think would be accessible to everyone and then sort of supersedes what the film's producer and writer wants to do with it?
>> well, i mean, i started my petition on change.org to change the rating from "bully" from r to pg-13 exactly the way it is. i mean, this language in this film is the language that kids hear every day. it's the language that kids bully each other with and that they are bullied by. so if we go in and take out that language, it's taking away from the message. i mean, no one goes into a school and edits out or takes out that language that kids hear every day.
>> you have to wonder, did you make this argument when you went to the mpaa? this is the kind of language kids hear every day, like it or not.
>> exactly the argument we made.
>> their reaction?
>> we lost by one vote. we lost our appeal by one vote. i think that although there's been a lot of conversation about this, i think we still remain hopeful. you know, i think we still think that there are so many voices who continue to come to the table, so many organizations and partners who continue to support us.
>> yeah. katy , do you know of anyone who snuck into the film, who's underage, any of your friends gotten in to see it?
>> i mean, we had a screening in ann arbor where i live for my friends, and we all went to see it. and, i mean, they all loved it. they thought it was wonderful.
>> yeah. okay. we hear wonderful things about this film. we want to thank you for your efforts and you as well. thank you for getting this out there. so important. i'm a mom. i have a couple kids. we've lived through all this. thank you.