By Eric Ramirez
On April 5, Lee Hirsch’s controversial documentary “Bully” was officially given the PG-13 rating by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America).
The film had originally received an R rating from the MPAA based on the grounds of language — the f-bomb was dropped three times.
This angered Hirsch along with the general public. The restricted rating would inhibit anyone under 17 from seeing the film, the age group that is the film’s target audience and needs to see the film more than anyone.
The edited version of the film received a limited released on April 13. Ironically, this is a week before the 13-year anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, perhaps the most well known incident of youths pushing each other to the edge through bullying.
The film itself is part of a larger movement called “The Bully Project.” And according to their website, the project “highlights solutions that both address immediate needs and lead to systemic change.”
The site also states that 13 million kids will be bullied in the country this year.
Bullying became a prevalent issue after an increase in teen suicides, the majority being committed by males who identified as or were thought to be gay. Studies even show that LGBTQ youth are anywhere from 30 percent to four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers.
This is not to say that LGBTQ youth are the only victims of bullying, far from it. Hirsh’s film follows five teen-aged victims of bullying. Sure, he follows Kelby, a girl who starting being bullied after coming out as a lesbian. But he also follows Alex, a 14-year-old boy in Iowa who, due to his premature birth, has oversized facial features.
Then there is Ja’Maya, a girl from Mississippi who was arrested for pulling a gun on a school bus after being persistently bullied.
The film has received positive reviews from critics, all commenting on the drastic, depressed stories of the children in the film. But as with all issues, public attention is only the first step.
My first quarter here, I learned over Facebook that a freshmen girl from my high school had committed suicide in the woods behind the nearby public library. A week later, another student, this time a 16-year-old boy, also took his own life.
Here at SCAD, homophobia, let alone bullying, is not a prevalent issue. As a matter of fact, I have yet to take a course where I am the only gay student in the class. But it would be foolish to say that, even at an art school like this one, discrimination of some sort doesn’t exist.
If you or someone you know is being bullied, whether it is due to their sexuality or not, the school’s own Q&A (Queers and Allies) club has meetings on Thursdays at 5p.m. in the Boundary Village common room. No one is turned away, and the club is our school’s step to a more accepting world.
Contact Eric Ramirez.