Ellen DeGeneres is speaking out against the R rating the documentary Bully has been slapped with by the Motion Picture Assn. of America – a rating that prevents anyone under the age of 17 from seeing the movie without an adult.
The film is about the epidemic of bullying in schools and got the R rating because of profanities some of the kids use in the movie.
'Having an R rating makes it difficult for anyone under the age of 17 to see it,' DeGeneres said on her syndicated talk show this week. 'Also, you can't show R-rated movies in schools and that's exactly where it needs to be shown.'
'So, I think it's important for the rating to be PG-13,' DeGeneres added. 'That was the intention of the filmmakers. … I think it's an important movie and I think it can change lives.'
The Weinstein Company, which sought a PG-13 rating, appealed the rating and lost. A PG-13 rating cautions parents that some material in a film may not be suitable for children under the age of 13.
DeGeneres said the language in the film, directed by Lee Hirsch and scheduled to open in theaters on March 30, is 'not gratuitous.'
'It's in the movie because it's part of the story and it's real language that bullies are using,' she said. 'After seeing it, I can tell you that the lessons the kids learn from this movie are more important than any words they might hear – and they're words that they already know anyway.'
In the audience of The Ellen DeGeneres Show when the host spoke about the ratings controversy was Michigan teenager Katy Butler who began a petition on Change.org signed by DeGeneres and more than 200,000 asking the MPAA to change the film's rating.
'I can’t believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change — and, in some cases, save — their lives,' Butler states on the petition. 'According to the film’s website, over 13 million kids will be bullied this year alone. Think of how many of these kids could benefit from seeing this film, especially if it is shown in schools?'
Butler is scheduled to present the petition to the MPAA's Sherman Oaks offices today (7 March).