No matter what form it takes, hypocrisy always sucks. The worst of these forms is pious hypocrisy, in which people make two-faced decisions and back themselves up with some skewed sense of a moral high ground.
One of the worst purveyors of this is the Motion Pictures Association of America, specifically their ratings board, the people in charge of determining whether a movie should be rated G, PG, etc. The ratings system was put in place so parents could decide what movies were suitable for their children. Therein lies the problem: the MPAA’s idea of what is appropriate for kids and what isn’t is so skewed and outdated that it borders on ridiculous.
All of the problems with the MPAA’s modus operandi came back to the forefront over the last few weeks with their reaction to the new Harvey Weinstein-produced documentary, “Bully.” “Bully” is an in-depth, uncensored look at bullying in a typical middle school, a movie that sounds like it speaks to a major issue and should be something that can be seen by anyone, right? But the MPAA gave “Bully” an R rating because of the profanity used by some of the kids in the movie, meaning that teenagers cannot go see this movie without and adult, and more importantly, they can’t watch it in school, even though it may be beneficial and actually address serious problems. As a result, Weinstein said he would released the movie unrated, making it close to impossible to be distributed to mass audiences.
It is a shame that this movie is basically being exiled to the outskirts of the movie world, but the MPAA’s nonsensical fear of swearing has been a problem for decades. It’s just like Kyle’s mom said in “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut:” “Horrific, deplorable violence is okay, and long as you don’t use any naughty words.” Here is an example: last year, “The King’s Speech,” which mostly consists of two people sitting in a room doing speech therapy, was rated R because of one scene where Colin Firth said the F word a few times. “The Hunger Games,” however, has teenagers murdering each other by way of neck-breaking and smashing skulls into a steel wall; but it was rated PG-13. If you don’t think that makes any sense, congratulations, you have a fully functioning brain.
The people who are in charge of these parents don’t see the forest for the trees when looking at movies. What I mean is, they don’t put them in any context that looks at who this movie is made for and what it wants from the audience. Even though it has cursing “Bully” is a film that is trying to inform people and force them to confront a serious issue. Real-world issues shouldn’t be kept from a certain demographic just because of swear words. Let’s be honest here: kids swear. They’ve been swearing for decades. I’ve been swearing since elementary school, and so has just about everyone I have ever met, so the MPAA has blinders on if they think kids need to be shielded from curse words. It’s akin to outlawing that darned rock and roll music all these whippersnappers are obsessed with.
There are countless examples of the MPAA giving incorrect ratings for reasons such as smoking, nudity, being subjected to Hilary Swank’s face, etc. But when a movie comes along that tries to speak to the younger generation and attempts to connect with them and include language every non-home schooled kid in America has heard like “Bully,” the MPAA shouldn’t try to censor it, they should welcome it with open arms. Parents should be the ones deciding for their children, not some third party. It’s like the dramatist Clare Booth Luce once said: “censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but, unlike charity, it should end there.”