Kenney wants 'Bully' rating changed

Some of Hollywood’s big name celebrities have already publicly taken issue with the “R” rating for “Bully” a documentary about middle and high school students who were victims of bullying.

Now that campaign has reached City Hall.

Councilman Jim Kenney said that he wants teenagers in Philadelphia to be able to view the movie and he wrote a letter to the Motion Picture Association of America asking that the rating be changed to PG-13. He has screened an advanced copy of the film.

“It’s an extremely provocative, powerful movie,” Kenney said, adding that teenagers should be able to see it without a parent or guardian. He said the use of the “F-word” should not prevent teenagers from seeing the film.

“These kids who see bullying and know it’s going on may try to put a stop to it by reaching out to the bullies,” he said.

The film is scheduled to open in New York City and Los Angeles this month and in Philly in April.

Read Kenney’s letter to MPAA here and check out the press release below:

(PHILADELPHIA) - In a letter to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney today asked the MPAA to change its "R" rating for the groundbreaking documentary film "Bully" to a "PG-13" rating "so that more students could see the film without the need to have a parent or guardian accompany them."

Directed by Emmy and Sundance award-winning director Lee Hirsch, the documentary follows five kids and their families over the course of one school year and the ways that bullying affects their lives. The film is a scheduled to open in New York City and Los Angeles on March 30, 2012, with a Philadelphia opening set for sometime in April. A trailer to the film can be viewed at

In his letter, Kenney wrote, "I am deeply troubled by the MPAA's decision to give the film "Bully" an "R" rating.  As a Philadelphia City Councilman who has screened an advance copy of the film, I firmly believe this film must be seen by as many students as possible. The film has a vitally important and powerful message that can open the eyes of all students to the pain and real consequences of bullying other students," Kenney wrote.

"Your "R" rating will make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of young people to see this film because it will prohibit their access unless they are accompanied by a parent or guardian," he wrote.

Kenney continued, "I am sure you know that school violence and bullying is reaching epidemic proportions in many of our schools. It is estimated that over 13 million kids will be bullied this year, and at least 3 million will stay home because they feel unsafe in school."

Kenney is working with Safe Schools Advocate Kelly Hodge - and the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League to have an estimated 10,000 local Philadelphia students view this film by raising money to purchase tickets and provide bus transportation to students who would not otherwise be able to see it.

Concluding his letter to the MPAA, Kenney wrote, "In our fight to stop bullying and violence in our schools, we need your support and understanding to realize the extent and reality of bullying and violence in our schools. Please help us change the environment in our schools so that no child should ever fear going to school. Our schools should be safe havens for learning and educational nourishment. Please help us to protect our children and change the "R" rating for "Bully" to a "PG-13."

Councilman Kenney also made an appearance on FOX TV 29's Good Day Philadelphia Show and asked local viewers to go to his Facebook page to sign an on-line petition started by Michigan high school student Kathy Butler - MPAA: Don't let the bullies win! Give 'Bully' a PG-13 instead of an R rating! The link to the petition is :