By Dana Dean
St. Louis (KSDK) -- It's a problem that often runs unchecked in schools across the country, taking an incredible toll on thousands of students. It affects their schoolwork, their home life, and their very well-being. Bullying is a topic that has been thrust into the national spotlight this spring thanks in part to a new movie called "Bully."
The documentary chronicles the story of several young students across the country. The film highlights these children's struggles with bullies and the grassroots efforts to put a stop to bullying.
This powerful movie was surrounded by controversy before it ever hit theaters, not for it's message but for it's content. "Bully" filmmakers would step on a ratings roller coaster and take thousands of people along for the ride, including our viewers here in St. Louis.
"Bully" proved to be an all out battle between the filmmakers and the ratings board. The ratings roller coaster would all start when Motion Picture Association of America or MPAA would stamp the movie with an R. That didn't sit well with the filmmakers, who want the movie to reach a mass audience. On February 21st, The Weinstein Company would announce plans to appeal the rating. Just two days later, they'd lose.
So what's the issue? Believe it or not, three words. Three uses of an expletive, filmmakers claim, capture the stark reality of bullying. That is what would come between an R and a PG-13 rating. By February 28th, the movie had received support from hundreds of thousands around the country, including a mom from St. Louis.
"I never thought my daughter was going to be a subject of bullying," she said.
Like so many others who believe in the cause, she'd sign an online petition to try and get the rating lowered. "A lot of people jumped on board very quickly," she added.
But, the rating wouldn't budge. Just when the ratings roller coaster would seem to be coming to a screeching halt, filmmakers would kick it into full gear. On March 30th, The Weinstein Company would release "Bully" unrated, leaving it up to each theater company to decide if they want to play the movie.
On April 5th, the filmmakers would have yet another announcement, "Bully" would be rated PG-13. A victory since the scene at the forefront of the battle, showing a teen bullied on a bus, was left fully intact. Three uses of an expletive were edited out from other scenes, ultimately persuading the ratings board to grant the PG-13 rating.