Movie’s MPAA should be rated I — for inconsistent
By RICHARD ROEPER firstname.lastname@example.org April 4, 2012 8:14PM
In this undated film image released by The Weinstein Company, Alex Libby is shown in the documentary film, "Bully." (AP Photo/The Weinstein Company)
Updated: May 6, 2012 8:26AM
Warning: we’re going to get into some graphic and rather gruesome details here.
In the most recent “Twilight” movie, the human teenage girl Bella and the ageless vampire Edward have a lovely, storybook wedding — followed by a rather tumultuous honeymoon experience.
What with Edward being a vampire unable to totally control his violent lust, sex with Bella leaves her deeply bruised, much to Edward’s horror.
Then things get really scary. Bella’s pregnant, the fetus is growing at an accelerated rate and literally feeding off Bella from within. On the brink of death, Bella starts guzzling blood to satisfy the fetus’ hunger.
After an excruciating labor, Bella gives birth to a baby girl but seemingly dies in the process. But after Edward injects her heart with his own venom, a red-eyed Bella jumps to life. She’s a vampire!
The Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings board gave “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” a PG-13 rating, despite all the violence and weirdness and blood guzzling. Now if the vampires had started dropping f-bombs or if we’d seen Bella’s boobs — well, that would have been a different story. That would have led to an instant “R” rating.
Inconsistency. Hypocrisy. More leniency for violence than sex. These are the hallmarks of the MPAA ratings process.
“The Hunger Games,” a fictional story of teenagers forced to kill one another, gets a rating of PG-13.
“Bully,” a documentary about real kids who are tormented at school with sometimes tragic results? That’s an R movie right there.
The following commentary is unrated
Of all the narrow-minded, out-of-touch, obstinate ratings decisions made by the MPAA over the years, giving “Bully” an R might just be the dopiest. Lee Hirsch’s documentary that focuses on a handful of bullied teens was rated R because some of the subjects of the movie use profanities.
In other words, the very kids who are featured in “Bully” wouldn’t be able to see “Bully” without an adult guardian because of words they already know and use. This is a film that should be seen by every junior high school student in America, yet the MPAA is saying those kids should be shielded from a couple of f-bombs.
Rather than subject the film to such stupidity, the Weinstein Company is releasing “Bully” without a rating. (It opens in Chicago on April 13. My full review of the film will be on the Sun-Times website soon.) This means it’s up to the theater chains to set the rules. They can decide not to show it out of respect to the ratings system, treat it like an R-rated film, or use common sense and enlightened thinking and treat it like the PG-13 film it should be.
The MPAA says it doesn’t want to start making exceptions for films based on things like social value. They want to adhere to a uniform method for rating films.
But subjectivity already abounds. As a Huffington Post article points out, the comedy “This Means War” was originally rated R but was given a PG-13 upon appeal, despite language that includes “f---,” as well as “s---,” “bitch,” “ass,” d---,” and the like. There’s a love scene and several references to sex. Yes, and there’s also a plot featuring two leading men who stalk and electronically spy on the object of their affection. Yet any 12-year-old in America can waltz in to see this crass and amoral “action-comedy” — but he’d have to wait five years to be old enough to see “Bully” on his own.
The relentlessly violent (and relentlessly brainless) “Transformers 3” was rated PG-13, even with a couple of f-bombs and a few more profanities. But “The King’s Speech” was given an R because Colin Firth says the f-word repeatedly in one comedic scene.
Raise your hand if any of that makes sense to you.