In an AP piece about Harvey Weinstein‘s fight with the MPAA over the R rating given to Bully, Jake Coyle quotes Weinstein as claiming that “there is precedent for degrading a film’s rating when it serves a greater good.”
Bully‘s R rating is over several f-bombs used by the villains of the piece, and yet the R rating given to Michael Tucker‘s potty-mouthed Gunner Palace (’04) was changed to PG-13 on appeal, he reminds, “because of its worthy subject matter.”
This decision, according to CARA ratings board chief Joan Graves, was “an anomaly” made in “a different time and a different appeals board.” Graves says the lesson of that ruling was that the MPAA shouldn’t wade into territory where it’s deciding ratings based on merit and subject material.
“The danger of our switching our criteria for what we perceive to be good films is that, one day, you and I are not going to agree on what’s good and what’s bad,” Graves tells Coyle, although she does consider Bully a good film. “Our system has always been built on giving the level of content and letting parents make the decision,” she declares.