The current controversy over giving the movie Bully an R-rating is akin to the current movement of conservative men "helping" women protect themselves against "evil" decisions. The movie is intended to battle widespread and ever-increasing bullying. There is an advantage to having parents see the film and learn more about the problem and its consequences, but the real target audience is and should be children. The fact that the movie contains what we called "curse" or "dirty" words (when I was a child 80 years ago) should hardly serve to bar seeing it by those who need it the most.

How can we continue this ridiculous notion that somehow our children must be shielded from hearing certain words? I recently posted an article decrying the hypocrisy of prohibiting profanity on television but letting the most horrendous violence thrive without restriction.

What is the harm to children from hearing these words in a movie, particularly when they hear those same words everyday in the schoolyard, on the streets and probably even in their own home? The language that can harm them is that coming from a bully, and that is the message the R-rating keeps them from hearing.

If parents, nonetheless, want to shield their children from such language they certainly are free to do so, but there should be no external restriction on movie admission merely because of the language a film contains. I have a sneaking suspicion that those who are most strongly in favor of the prohibition are the same ones who decry government interference (although the restrictions here are industry-, not government-, imposed). No one other than parents should be telling children what words they can hear. It is more important for children to learn the harm and dangers of bullying than be shielded from the language used in carrying out that bullying.
categories Movies