By Adrian Hedden
Over the past few months, a high school student from here in Ann Arbor has been crusading to lower the rating of a film called “Bully.” Katy Butler, of Greenhills High, has argued that despite being strewn with graphic dialogue and violent subject matter, the film must be seen by her and her peers with or without parental consent.
Butler cites that the nature of the film addresses the travesty of adolescent harassment by a young student’s classmates and is thus more topical and relevant to her age group than any other. Quickly garnering media attention for her aggressive, large-scale petitioning, Butler has made claims that every child should see this film.
Anyone could see the movie at will if not for the “R” rating that its “f-bombs” have earned. Accompanied by a parent or guardian over 18, children can always be taken to R-rated films and have been able to since the ratings were implemented.
It’s nice to think of children being brought to a highly artistic albeit adult-themed movie by their parents, and of them explaining the graphic nature. We love to picture them hoping to cultivate their offspring into adult personalities that are well-adjusted to the horrors of the modern world through years of sensitive exposure and cautious conversation.
Why then does Butler seem to think that this will not happen with “Bully?” Why does she want students to take it upon themselves to see the film and take for granted that they will not duplicate the behavior but learn from it?
Because she knows she is out of options.
The truth is that parents don’t take their children to see films like this, hoping to derive some life lesson. In the age of the media blitz that is the Internet and the growing distance its obsessive use has created between families, the aforementioned communication sadly does not exist. Indifference in the family is alive and well – and rampant.
Parents simply throw their hands up when met with the complexities of Facebook and YouTube on top of their own difficulties relating to a generation they seem to have less and less in common with as time goes on.
So the rating gets changed and kids are left to educate themselves on right and wrong and the horrible impact bullying can have on their peers. My parents taught me this: no name-calling, no teasing. I resisted at first, but they stayed strong. I resorted to calling them names, but they never gave up being my friends and mentors.
True, I still enjoy a good rib here and there, but I know where the border between sanity and “too far” lays. It started with my parents.
Now that the rating of “Bully” has been changed, children are to parent themselves in theaters as they watch. They are all they have left in this desert of parental apathy. I’m glad they get to see it and talk amongst each other, but parents need to re-evaluate what this could mean for future generations.
As the Motion Picture Association of America, one of the most secret and powerful parental advisory commissions has been brought into question by this lone teenager, parents must ask why?
Why has their power been stripped? What have they lost? Answer these questions, suck up your pride and request your kid be your “friend” on Facebook, or rather ask them how it works. It might change your relationship from provider to teacher and prevent the impending childhood anarchy that your “cool” and disturbingly removed parenting may very well cause.