‘Bully’: Harvey Weinstein pulls another fast one

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You really had to hand it to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein this week.

After generating tons of press coverage for his anger over the Motion Picture Association of America’s R rating for the documentary “Bully” — stirring up more publicity for a non-fiction film than most big-budget action movies ever receive — and then vowing to release the film without a rating, Weinstein’s company yesterday said it would make the cuts necessary to secure a PG-13.

The Weinstein Company tried to frame this decision as a victory over the MPAA — claiming it kept in one raw-ish scene that was part of the original R decision — but it has trimmed out all but a few of the F-bombs.

The MPAA has always allowed two non-sexual uses of the F word in a PG-13 and now the Weinstein people are bragging that they are creating a milestone by getting three uses.

I was surprised when so many members of the movie press got sucked into this flap — drawing who-knows-how-many incensed op-ed page writers along with them — when ratings hysteria is one of the oldest PR gambits in the Weinstein playbook.

Going all the way back to 1990, Weinstein (then head of Miramax) got a lot of press for protesting the X-rating for the Peter Greenaway film, “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.” Weinstein said it was wrong to lump the British import with “pornographic” films.

After a few weeks of back and forth-ing with the MPAA, Miramax released the movie with the original rating and no doubt made a lot more money from a very obscure and very arty picture by drawing so much attention to its graphic sexual content.

I might have been more sympathetic to the “Bully” ratings protest — I am no fan of the  MPAA’s censorship power — if I didn’t remember what the Weinstein Company did early last year after the R-rated “The King’s Speech” won the Oscar for best picture. In a shameless attempt to maximize profits for the film, the company made cuts to get a PG-13 after the picture received the movie industry’s highest honor.

Joe Meyers

3 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    I agree with these comments, but both writers don’t seem to understand that the blog post isn’t about the content of the documentary – it’s about the manipulation of the rating system for publicity purposes.

  2. lck says:

    Many young people hear and use vulgar language all the time when not within ear shot of their parents and teachers so recutting this to “comply” with the denying adults is just plain stupid. Mr Meyers must be living in another world to think that the young people haven’t heard and said the same words themselves and that by acknowledging that fact in this film is somehow corrupting kids.

  3. Charley says:

    But you’re missing the point that seeing this film could be very supportive to a lot of kids.