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Celebs Rally Behind Weinstein in “Bully” Battle with MPAA

Celebs Rally Behind Weinstein in "Bully" Battle with MPAA

What do Justin Bieber and Meryl Streep have in common? Well, besides their virtuosity in their chosen fields — Meryl in acting, Justin in sneakers-wearing — they have come together with a host of other celebrities to get a PG-13 rating for the documentary “Bully.”

The Weinstein Company is using every trick in the book to reverse the bullying documentary’s R rating from the MPAA. The rating, for language used by kids themselves, will keep the film from being screened in schools, where Weinstein believes it will make a difference.

First, there was the inevitable online petition, which was launched by a bullying victim and garnered hundreds of thousands of supporters. Then, Weinstein began hosting screenings and discussions for students to prove that the film could have an educational impact.

Now, Weinstein is getting his friends on board. Today, TWC issued a press release announcing that Bieber and Streep have joined Johnny Depp, Ellen Degeneres, Anderson Cooper, Kelly Ripa, and Tommy Hilfiger in public support for the movie. 

Hilfiger will also be designing a “Bully” t-shirt inspired by the film’s poster, with a portion of proceeds benefiting Facing History and Ourselves. TWC says he’s the first of 10 designers that they will ask to donate their services on behalf of the fundraising effort. Photographer David LaChapelle also has offered to donate his services towards an ad campaign.

In addition, California Representative Mike Honda and Senator Kristin Gillibrand have issued statements to MPAA and former Senator Chris Dodd, its chairman, supporting the petition and urging them to overturn the R rating.

Weinstein marketing at its finest or social activism? Probably a little of both, but it’s starting to look like this uphill battle is gaining traction. If you’re interested in signing the “Bully” petition, click here.

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Mark Lipsky

Unfortunately, the Bully ratings issue is a total distraction from anything that's truly going to influence bullying. If everyone under the age of 18 sees Bully – and I hope they do – the reduction in bullying will hardly be noticeable. It's parents who urgently need to see Bully, not kids. Kids are bullying experts. They see it every day and they know first hand how devastating it can be. But bullies aren't born bullies. They learn how to be bullies at home. No one over the years has had a more tangible impact on the MPAA's disreputable rating system than I have, but in this case, I agree with the rating. Instead of pouring all of its efforts into generating as much meaningless PG-13 static as it can, the issue and the film would be better served if the distributor pressed the Streeps and Depps and Ripas of the world into service encouraging parents to see see the film with their kids. 'R' is the right thing in this case regardless of the number of 'f-bombs.' Use the 'R' as leverage to get the parents in. They should use their celebrity friends to shame the enablers into the cinema along with their children. Every kid in America seeing the film will mostly benefit the distributor. Get a few parents in and we'll all benefit. Use the 'R' for good, not just for profit.

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