Teen says 'Bully' doc needs new rating
March 13th, 2012
04:32 PM ET

Teen says 'Bully' doc needs new rating

By Jim Roope, CNN

Listen to CNN Radio's podcast on the petition to change the MPAA rating for the film "Bully" from Jim Roope.

(CNN) – According to the documentary, “Bully,” 13,000,000 kids will be bullied this year in the U.S. The film follows the lives of five kids who are the victims of bullies. The Motion Picture Association of America has given the documentary an “R” rating because of strong language, but a 17-year-old bullying victim is trying to change that.

Katy Butler said she was bullied almost everyday at her Ann Arbor, Michigan middle school.

“I was out as a lesbian, and there were a lot of kids in my school who were really not OK with that,” said Butler. “They taunted me and bullied me and harassed and they slammed my hand in my locker and broke my finger,” she said.

Butler said the MPAA's “R” rating will mean the very kids who should see it, meaning middle-and-high-school-aged kids, cannot see it.

“The kids who are bullied need to be able to see this movie because it lets them know that we’re not alone and if all of us stand up to the bullies, we can definitely make a change,” said Butler

To help create that change, Butler collected more than 200,000 signatures on a petition. After presenting it to the MPAA, the powerful industry rating arm said it must hold firm to its language standards and so far has refused to change its rating.

Butler said the language in the film is language bullies use in their terrorizing of others and it’s important that kids hear and see it.

Los Angeles psychologist Mark Sergi agreed with Butler and said bullies are victims themselves of a vicious cycle.

“Because they come from family environments where aggression is modeled, or aggression is a result of lack of attention by parents,” said Sergi. “Where siblings would be aggressive with each other; where mom and dad are abusive of each other; they’re physically abusive of each other,” he said.

Aggressive behavior, said Sergi, is a learned behavior. It is then unleashed on the bully’s victims and the results range from victims being hurt, to victims committing suicide, or even to victims lashing out in violent acts of their own as has happened recently.

In Ohio, student T.J. Lane is accused of killing three students when he allegedly opened fire inside an Ohio-school cafeteria. Lane allegedly is a victim of bullying.

Sergi said that kind of violence from the victim is a common link between the victim and the bully.

“They have low self image,” Sergi said.

Katy Butler is hoping to convince the MPAA to reduce the rating on the documentary “Bully” before its release later this month.

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Filed under: Behavior • Podcast • Policy • Practice • School violence
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. Jim Dandey

    The filmmakers are not REQUIRED to submit the movie to the MPAA for a rating; they can release it without doing so...

    March 27, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  2. Harharhar


    This about sums up the worlds problems.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  3. me

    For those of you telling these kids to "buck up" or "cope" please try to edjucate yourselves a little further before making an anonymous comment online. what your'e saying barely makes sense. Bullying is such a broad term. it encompasses minor things like name calling and violating torture. nothing is crueler than a child who doesnt understand the ramifications of what theyre doing. bashing devon wont cure his ignorance. unfortunately he'll remain narrow minded in his superiority his whole life

    March 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  4. Robyn

    We don't need more categories of censorship, or different categories of censorship.
    If we want to live up to our own beliefs in a free society, then we should have freedom.
    The MPAA has no place in a free society and should be eliminated.

    Standing up to the self appointed "defenders of the faith" who created an obcenity like the MPAA
    needs to be done and it needs to be done now. We stand together to demand freedom.

    March 15, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Jim Dandey

      Filmmakers are not required to submit their films to the MPAA for ratings; it's voluntary...

      March 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  5. Jan

    I think it should be shown, but if there are concerns have consent forms, offer viewing to the parents, but I for one am thankful for people who want to help stop the bullying. My 10 year old granddaughter got several text messages from another 10 year old that we need to do whatever we can to stop the bullying and help ALL kids find a better way.

    March 15, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  6. steph

    My son is 7 and he was being bullied and it kills me to no that kids out there that dont have parents that take the time to teach there kids that it is not ok to bully in any way. when my sun started school last yr i was very worried that it would happen to him and it did. it makes me want to freak out on the parents of these kids. my husband and i have decited to teach my son how to deffend himself. not that we want him to fight but its time he knows how.

    March 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  7. frank

    I am 15 yrs old and in HS. To all you of you who keep saying, "suck it up, get over it" etc, its not that easy for kids. And that's they key word- kids. Not everyone knows how to handle themselves or a situation yet. They're too distracted by their pain. More and more kids are depressed and cutting themselves and suicidal. This bullying video should not be rated R because this bullying issue has gone on long enough- and it's only getting worse by social networking. It needs to change. And just because you feel upset and hurt does not make you weak. Everyone feels that way sometimes- children, teens, and adults.

    March 15, 2012 at 7:14 am |
  8. cas

    ok just wanted to know did they cover cyberbullying in this movie too or just the face to face stuff?

    March 15, 2012 at 2:15 am |
  9. john cougar

    I was bullied all the way to high school partly because I was the smallest kid in class. By the time I was a senior I grew almost 12 inches. When I was in the ninth grade, I was picked on by somebody in class who kept slapping the back of my head with a hand full of rings. For 4 years, everytime I saw this person, I swore that if he EVER hit me again I WOULD FIGHT BACK. Well, in my senior year in spanish class, he made the mistake of hitting me again. He never got a chance to breathe, in one quick motion, I turned around and bodily threw him across 3 rows of chairs right in front of the teacher. You know, the little spanish teacher who was a nun did not even punish me! Also, this person and other people never picked on me after that. Its sad that the only way you can get a bully's respect is by violence.

    March 15, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • lololol

      and how long ago was that?? was this before or after Columbine? if that was today, you would have been arrested for assault for punching that kid in the face.. All you did was perpetuate the wheel of harassment and violence.

      March 24, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  10. Robin

    I agree that it should be changed. At the same time, it is a good opportunity for adults to get involved in the lives of their children, since younger kids can in fact go to R movies with an adult.....

    March 14, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Mary

      I fully agree. I just told my Mom that I would take my 13 year old daughter to see this. She has had a couple of issues with a student this year and I made sure to be fully involved to keep it from happening again. So far so good.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Ed

      "stop crying. get your parents to take you."

      Grow up. The kids that really NEED to see this film are the bullies and the bullied, not the kids in between. And kids who are either bullies or are bullied a lot are far less likely to have pro-active parents that are going to bring them to see a movie like this. Bullies especially are almost certainly not going to see this film if it keeps it's R rating. This movie needs to be screened in schools.

      "stop being stupid and weak. idiot nation of pansies."

      Oh nevermind, I get it. You're the bully. Makes sense now.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:55 am |
      • Ed

        Sorry Robin, this was a reply to Devin and somehow got attributed to you.

        March 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  11. Nancy

    Wow. Some of these comments are the perfect examples as to why this video needs to be seen by everyone. As my grandparents told me growing up, "If you can't respectfully handle a situation, then don't say anything."

    March 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Rebekah

    people can be so mean

    March 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  13. sabri_saint

    I was a bully in middle school and it wasn't because I was unloved or my parents were aggressive or anything like that. My parents were actually deeply in love and after 38 years of marriage they still are. It was because I had low self esteem and a low sense of self worth. A lot of people who bully have the exact same issues I did. Now that I am an adult I look back at myself and my behavior and am truley ashamed and even though I have tried my best to apologize I try to give back and my chosen profession is working with juveniles with behavioral problems. The ”expert” cited in this article is wrong add to why some kids bully. I hope he gets it right so that the bullies can get the right help they so desperately need!

    March 14, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Gary

      Regardless of if your parents were in love or not, your low view of yourself as a kid is a result, in part, of how you were raised.

      March 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  14. blam

    These rating systems are ridiculous. I truly hate the FCC.

    March 14, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Nerd4Life

      This isn't the FCC it's the MPAA.

      March 14, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  15. jamie

    I was bullied, but not bad. It was jealous girls and I knew that so I could cope. However, there was a kid whose locker was broken into and kids peed on his jacket and books. Other kids contstantly picked on him. Don't be a moron and think that everyone should put on their big boy pants and get over the bullying because some bullying is simple and stupid like mine and other bullying is demeaning and simply on a whole other level of cruel. Have someone piss on your stuff and throw pubic hair on you (yes they did that to this kid) and then see how well you "get over it"

    March 14, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  16. nickij

    the langauge used in the movie is being used by the teens, so they can say it but they cant hear it? As for devin a leave him alone he suffers from penis envy and is beyond anyones help

    March 14, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  17. Joey B

    Boo hoo... I cant stick up for myself and will be a pathetic loser the rest of my life. That is the problem with where our society is headed. Its as bad as sports giving the losers awards so everyone can be happy.

    March 14, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • JudgeDB

      People like you are why kids bring guns to school. Maybe one day, if you're lucky enough to procreate and have a d-bag kid just like yourself, you'll understand after your kid gets shot for being a ruthless bully. Unfortunately, people like you don't learn any other way.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  18. K.williams

    These idiots need to pay close attention.i mean have a heart these ppl being bullied could be one of your family members! Ppl are committing suicide behind hurtful words.wake up everybody u are killing of the future.so with that being said i agree fully with u katy they need to change the rating because everybody needs to view it.

    March 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  19. haley

    Im just disgusted... She is not fat.... Poor girl, trying to open up and document her story in hopes of protecting future children from mental terrorist... And she still gets hell for it.... I agree I think everyone should watch it...

    March 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  20. haley

    Im a little disgusted.. she isnt even fat... I mean really? you try to open up and document things that happen to you in hopes to maybe save your kids life one day from a mental terrorist and you still get hell for it... Unbelievable

    March 13, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  21. Wealthychat-com

    Thank you for a common sense story, I am jeff, I met a wealthy girl, Nicole, via~–(My Name)~-a wealthy singles dating club. She told me most guys of her hometown just love her money than her, but she helps me a lot from material and spirit for my sincerity to her, and next week we will hold the wedding in Miami. So both of us think money will never stop your steps getting the true love kiss, as long as you treat it serious! Maybe you are the next one to be loved!Good luck to you, and remember to share with your friends!

    March 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  22. jwrj

    i was bullied all through out middle and highschool everyday got so bad i tried to kill myself but i didnt die and i rea
    ized what i needed to do. i stood up to those bullies and fought back to stop the attacks no matter if i got into trouble and it stopped only way you can stop it

    March 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • shawn

      My daughter (15) stood up for herself, got herself a 6 week suspension! The bullying girl received NOTHING! I had to hire an attorney to get her back into school. So I agree, they bc to fight back!

      March 13, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  23. Thomas

    It seems to me that if what happens in schools and bullying is rated "R" we have a major problem in our schools and as a society that must be addressed.

    March 13, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Binny

      Excellent point. Well put.

      March 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Ed


      March 15, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  24. Lindsay

    I believe that they should not change the rating because of its content. Movies are movies and should be rated by what is shown and heard in it. It is a public and everday thing to see bullying so why change it now with a movie that is simply reality.

    March 13, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  25. Scott

    ...Here's a thought, instead of crying about how the same rules that apply to everyone else shouldn't apply to this movie because 'it's socially progressive', why don't you try blaming the idiot who wrote/directed/edited the thing for not taking into account who their target audience was and producing a film that would be rated accordingly.

    March 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Tom

      The problem is the same rules do not apply to everyone. The MPAA does not have set standards on how they rate films. Please watch the film "This Film has not been rated" to see a more detailed look into the MPAA and how they do business. I don't believe anyone is whining.. they are just wanting to see a film that can educate get out to the right target audience.

      March 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Gary

      The editors could have cut a version that bleeped out the offensive language. News programs like 60 minutes have presented very strong segments that do not need to be be R rated to be powerful.

      March 14, 2012 at 6:01 am |
    • Linda

      Where do you hide your unicorns and rainbows???

      March 14, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Ed

      Scott, for the MPAA this is an argument about context, and whether they should account for it. Many of us believe that they should. When it comes to bad language, context means a lot, especially to a child. For example, there is a huge difference between someone yelling "F-CK!" because they dropped a hammer on their toe, and one character rudely telling another to "F-CK OFF!". One use of the word is simply to express pain, while the other use is to belittle and hurt someone.

      The filmmaker obviously thinks, as do many, that the film is perfectly acceptable in it's current form. The language used in the film is used in the context that bullies actually use it in every day. The movie is reflecting a truth, and to ignore it would be ingenuine.

      Now could they bleep out the words? Yeah, probably.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  26. dantheman

    @devina im glad youre on the meds. Dont ever stop taking them

    March 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Devin A.

      i wont dan. thanks so much for your concern.

      March 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  27. Devin A.

    @ OC.
    nice evaluation of my bitterness. a bit off but that's ok. i've got some great meds the army has provided and im not much for therapy. im bored while doing some homework and just so happened to come across this article. she and everyone else who agrees with her is stupid and weak. you are obviously a moron therefore i couldn't care less what it is you have to say. but you are right about one thing, it will be alright. continue to suck at life at your leisure and keep your tips for those weak minded pansies who can't deal with their own problems. and who are you to say what well adjusted grown up does and doesn't do? i would say tucking your sack back and gazing longingly into the mirror isn't something a well adjusted adult does but i wouldn't put it past ya.

    March 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Really?

      You are a jerk but that's ok. Clearly you need more medicine and therapy. So why won't you get around to that rather than troll the web.

      March 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • derp

      I hope that medicine is a bullet, to be taken orally.

      March 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • daniel

      saying degrading things to someone who says such hurtful things doesn't do anything but perpetuate the cycle. being different to someone like this is the problem. to someone who says things like this, if you don't think, act, feel, and project the lifestyle he's accustomed to...then your weak. sad, you defend a country built on its diversity...but hate it for the exact same reason. begs to question...why again do you do it? cuz apparently it isn't for the pride...

      March 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • JudgeDB

      Devin is obviously a sociopath, unable to feel any empathy or sympathy for others. Devin most likely joined the army for the opportunity to legally kill someone, much like the recent stories about US soldiers hunting people in Afghanistan. There is no way to present a rational argument to people like Devin, because all they ever focus on is how to get what they want, and how to blend in with actual human beings. Thanks to the internet, Devin has been provided the opportunity to show his/her true nature. I've said it before, people like Devin are why kids bring guns to school.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  28. Uniema

    Does this really matter? School is what 12 years... only 6 of those years are kinda crappy, and only 1/3 of your day is spent there at 5 days a week. Honestly... if you get bullied, Im sorry... but try to cope. There is more difficult challenges after High School than kids making fun of your sexual orientation. Goodness sakes.... you dont even spend more than an hour with the same kids a day. Lame problem is lame.

    March 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • daniel

      a reply you would expect from one of 2 people...a person who did the bullying...or a person to ashamed to admit they where bullied. true, that is a short period of time. but time itself is what makes a person strong enuff to handle life as an adult. but if you cant see the purpose of this...then trying to explain it wont help. i just pray to God that either you dont have kids who ever get in this situation...and if you ever do, i hope you handle it better than what you post on an online internet site...

      March 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • JudgeDB

      That sounds like a great idea. Please post your home address so that I can torment you for 2 hours, 5 days a week for 6 years. Come on, put your money where your mouth is so I can make you literally eat your words.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  29. Devin A.

    hey katy butler, maybe you should spend less time trying to see a movie and more time not being fat and pathetic. go cry to someone who cares.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • nick

      Wow your a loser

      March 13, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
      • Devin A.

        i assume you fall in line with the pathetic and fat comment. sorry you got drug into those meanie face comments.

        March 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Really?

      Gosh, this troll really has a deep obsession with fat people. So distasteful.

      March 13, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Linda K

      Apparently, not to many of you have ever been bullied, BUT know how to bully. How dare you attack someone for their opinion...is that not what the military fights to protect? And then one of you called her [a child] a "fat pathetic loser, you just proved yourself a pathetic loser. And a bully to children, BUT, whether we agree with the morons or not, they have the right to speak their nasty, bulling words!

      March 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • am brown

      If you think you're so great Devin, why aren't you in the movies? I'll tell you why, you're a loser, you're probably a bully and afraid someone will take away the only thing you do well...bullying. Grow up!

      March 14, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Jack

      DavinA, you're pretty tough online hiding behind your online persona. I bet if we were face to face you wouldn't be so brave. You're pathetic. Get out of mama's basement and get some therapy.

      March 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  30. Devin A.

    stop crying. get your parents to take you. stop being stupid and weak. idiot nation of pansies.

    March 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • enkephalin07

      Still bitter about your high school experience?

      March 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
      • Devin A.

        nope. had a good ole time. did my time and moved on with my life. pretty much the long and short of how everyone should go about it.

        March 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
      • OC

        @Devin A.
        Obviously, you're a little sore about being picked last in gym for basketball games. Protip: Well-adjusted grown ups don't go making fun of teenaged girls on Internet forums.

        Find a therapist and/or some meds. It'll be alright. 🙂

        March 13, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Uniema

      While rude, I do kinda agree. Honestly if you cant cope with kids now for only a few hours a day... how are you going to cope later on in your life? Or are you going to keep making movies about how hard life is?

      March 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
      • Nerd4Life

        Clearly you've never actually been bullied. Otherwise you would understand why we're between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide than people who aren't bullied. 4400 kids kill themselves every year, and 100x that number will try. Others will plan and commit murder before they kill themselves. Mass murder is not unheard of among bullying victims.

        But they just "can't cope" so it's their fault, right?

        Let me know when your vision is corrected, and you can actually see past the end of your nose.

        Until then, try not to aggravate the bullied kids further by telling them to grow up or something. That might be all they need to hear to become one of the 4400 I mentioned earlier.

        March 14, 2012 at 10:47 am |
      • Nerd4Life

        Clearly you've never actually been bullied, have you?

        March 14, 2012 at 10:53 am |
      • Ed

        It sounds to me like you were a bully. You're ignorant.

        March 15, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  31. Sue D.

    Why not just bleep the bad words? Kids need to see this movie in school!

    March 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Cherries

      Yes they should. They show Schindler's List and Lord of the Flies after all. This is no worse.

      March 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
      • Ed

        Great point! I was shown Schindler's List in school uncut. The subject matter was considered important enough to warrant a screening. However, it wasn't done without each kid requiring a permission slip. It will be a lot easier to get this film screened in every school in America if schools don't need to worry about that. But if it keeps it's rating, I hope that schools make the effort.

        March 15, 2012 at 9:01 am |