I finally saw Lee Hirsch‘s Bully (Weinstein Co., 3.30) last night, and guess what? The f-bomb hassle that Hirsch and the Weinstein Co. are involved with is just a lot of smoke and hot air. Seriously — there’s nothing to get alarmed or excited about. It’s all a lot of needless hooey, the petition being circulated by Change.org and Katy Butler included.

Hirsch, the Weinstein Co. and Ms. Butler have been trying to get the MPAA to change its R rating to a PG-13. They’re claiming that the f-bombs are necessary for the integrity of the film because they represent the hateful attitudes directed at the victims of bullying in the film. Or something like that. The MPAA has predictably dug in its heels, and the Bully team is saying it’s important for school-age kids to see the film but they won’t be allowed to if it’s rated R, hence the ratings battle.

But the whole issue — and I’m saying this with sincere admiration and respect for Hirsch and the film, which is very well done and quite touching — is utter bullshit because f-bombs are meaningless in the context of what’s shown and the flow of the film and the music and the abundant feelings. This is a doc about cruelty, and the measure of that is in the stories of the victims (two of whom have taken their own lives) and in their faces in photographs and home videos, and especially in the faces and hearts of their parents and brothers and sisters.

Hearing an f-bomb or three or five is absolutely meaningless in the midst of all this tragedy and grief.

I myself heard only one f-bomb, and a friend/colleague who sat next to me at the screening said he heard only one also. I checked with a Weinstein Co. rep after the screening and was told that the film contains six of them.

Honestly and truly I didn’t hear the other five and even if I had (or if my colleague had) it wouldn’t matter. The f-bombs are said by kids during some school bus footage, but the sound is from an iPhone or flipcam video so the aural quality is lousy. It doesn’t matter anyway. This film is about stopping cruelty and raising the consciousness of parents who are too stupid or bull-headed to understand that they need to make sure that their kids don’t make other kids miserable by constantly harassing and teasing and slapping them around.

The Weinstein Co. should have caved on this issue immediately. Bully is an important film that needs to be seen by younger kids everywhere, and it’s absolutely idiotic to insist on keeping six f-bombs on the soundtrack as it means nothing to hear them or not. Get rid of them or overdub them but kick this issue to the curb and don’t let someone’s obstinacy get in the way of this film being seen by kids and parents who really need to see it.