HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Roger Ebert: Hey Kids! An...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Fri Mar 16, 2012, 12:08 PM

Roger Ebert: Hey Kids! Anybody Here Not Heard the F-Word? ("Bully" Anti-Bullying Documentary & MPAA) [View all]

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2012/03/even_as_i_write_on.html

Hey, kids! Anybody here not heard the F-word?

By Roger Ebert on March 15, 2012 10:04 PM | 20 Comments

Even as I write on Thursday night, a screening of "Bully" is taking place in Washington that may or may not result in the film's MPAA rating being changed from R to PG-13. Jen Chaney suggests in her Washington Post blog that a compromise might even be possible. The film is a documentary about how bullying affected five families, and led to two suicides. It was slapped with an R, because of its use of the F-word. Chaney asked Lee Hirsch, the film's director, "whether there was any chance he would consider bleeping out one or two of those expletives if that guaranteed a PG-13 designation for the movie, thereby allowing teen audiences to see it."

Hirsch replied he believes the F-word makes the bullying more real. Yes, and so no doubt it does. In its article on the MPAA ratings, Wikipedia tells us: "If a film uses "one of the harsher sexually derived words" (such as fuck) one to four times, it is routine today for the film to receive a PG-13 rating, provided that the word is used as an expletive and not with a sexual meaning." Apparently "Bully" either exceeds the count or refers to sexuality. I haven't seen the film, but let's say it uses the word more than four times. Then let's say Hirsch removes some of those uses so that it is employed only once. Would that earn him a PG-13? He tells Chaney he's willing to do whatever will help bullied kids. But he adds: "If you take that away, it's one more notch against that experience. It's one more big societal minimizing, or sort of, negating, of the full extent of terror that comes with bullying."

Of course he is right. If a director wants to make a film against bullying, it is not for a committee of MPAA bean-counters to tell him what words he can use. Not many years ago, the word rape was not used in newspapers, on television--or in the movies, for that matter. But there is a crime, and the name of the crime is rape, and if you remove the word you help make the crime invisible.

This is yet another example of the MPAA sidestepping ethical judgments by falling back on the technicalities of its guidelines. It is even more insidious because the MPAA never clearly spells out its guidelines, leaving it to filmmakers to guess--although they often judge by past experience. It seems to me that either the f-word word is permissible, or it is not. If impermissible, nobody should use it at all in a PG-13 film. If permissible, nobody should count. Is it a magic word, a totemistic expression that dare not say its own name? Is it a vulgar equivalent of such a word as G-d?

The MPAA began to set this trap for itself when it got into the ratings business in the first place...

MORE

20 replies, 2733 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 20 replies Author Time Post
Reply Roger Ebert: Hey Kids! Anybody Here Not Heard the F-Word? ("Bully" Anti-Bullying Documentary & MPAA) [View all]
Hissyspit Mar 2012 OP
HockeyMom Mar 2012 #1
MADem Mar 2012 #2
shcrane71 Mar 2012 #5
MADem Mar 2012 #6
shcrane71 Mar 2012 #10
MADem Mar 2012 #12
shcrane71 Mar 2012 #14
MADem Mar 2012 #15
shcrane71 Mar 2012 #16
MADem Mar 2012 #18
shcrane71 Mar 2012 #19
MADem Mar 2012 #20
WI_DEM Mar 2012 #3
MADem Mar 2012 #7
longship Mar 2012 #4
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2012 #8
msongs Mar 2012 #9
RC Mar 2012 #11
benld74 Mar 2012 #13
SidDithers Mar 2012 #17