Canadians, it turns out, aren’t as easily offended as our neighbours to the South.
For weeks a feud has been brewing in the United States between bombastic film distributor Harvey Weinstein and the Motion Picture Association of America, which slapped an R-rating on the documentary Bully because of coarse language.
Weinstein (who has backed Oscar-winning films such as Shakespeare in Love) rarely shies from a good fight. And he’s spitting mad at the MPAA for giving Lee Hirsch’s thought-provoking film – which follows five high-school students whose lives are made a living hell by bullies – a rating that prohibits kids in the U.S. from seeing a movie aimed specifically at them, unless they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian.
But on Tuesday, Canada took its own stand: Ontario and Manitoba joined British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta (where ratings were given out last week) in granting Bully PG-status. Not surprisingly, the move was applauded by Hirsch, who believes bullying has reached a crisis point in America.
Others share his view. An online petition started by a U.S. high school student – and supported by daytime talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees – now has almost 300,000 signatures, including 20 from members of Congress who say the documentary should be accessible to “teenagers in this country who are tormented, harassed, and bullied by their peers.”
For his part, Weinstein – one of Hollywood’s great hot-heads and a tough film promoter – has threatened to pull out from the ratings board over the matter.
The National Association of Theater Owners retaliated by threatening to slap an NC-17 rating on Weinstein's future releases, which means anyone 17 or younger would be prohibited.
Bully opens in Canadian theatres on April 6.