Kids Can't Watch Depiction of What Their Lives Are Like

Sounds like an Onion title when put like that, no? Here’s a documentary about the bullying kids’ suffer that the MPAA rated R:

The MPAA defended its judgment thusly:

Bullying is a serious issue and is a subject that parents should discuss with their children. The MPAA agrees with the Weinstein Company that Bully can serve as a vehicle for such important discussions.

The MPAA also has the responsibility, however, to acknowledge and represent the strong feedback from parents throughout the country who want to be informed about content in movies, including language.

The rating and rating descriptor of ‘some language,’ indicate to parents that this movie contains certain language. With that, some parents may choose to take their kids to this movie and others may not, but it is their choice and not ours to make for them. The R rating is not a judgment on the value of any movie. The rating simply conveys to parents that a film has elements strong enough to require careful consideration before allowing their children to view it. Once advised, many parents may take their kids to see an R-rated film. School districts, similarly, handle the determination of showing movies on a case-by-case basis and have their own guidelines for parental approval.

Holmes complains:

There’s a grotesque irony in declaring that what is portrayed in Bully should be softened, or bleeped — should be hidden, really, because it’s too much for kids to see. Of course it’s too much for kids to see. It’s also too much for kids to live through, walk through, ride the bus with, and go to school with. That’s why they made the movie. The entire point of this film is that kids do not live with the protection we often believe they do — many of them live in a terrifying, isolating war zone, and if you hide what it’s like, if you lie about what they’re experiencing, you destroy what is there to be learned. It seems grievously beside the point to worry that the film is too much for kids. The problem is that even at school where there is meant to be protection, the world is too much for them; some of their parents will tell you that’s why they took their own lives. Any parent who is truly offended by the language their kids experience in seeing Bully would be wise to consider that they’re likely hearing it at school anyway — that’s how it got in the film.

This rating doesn’t merely give parents information. It presents a 15-year-old with the prospect of meeting an usher at the door who says, “I’m sorry you came here looking for the movie about the hard-charging teenage lesbian who overcame being intentionally hit with someone’s car and has survived to tell the tale with her friends and with her parents who love her. That one is rated R. Would you consider Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance?”

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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