Well, yes. On the film's website, Hirsch even casts the MPAA as bullies: "Don't let the MPAA bullies win," they say in promoting signatures to a petition demanding the movie's R rating be softened to PG-13. Hirsch's poster girl for this petition is Katy Butler, a 17-year-old lesbian activist, who naturally thinks to limit this film is life-threatening. She laments, "I can't believe the MPAA is blocking millions of teenagers from seeing a movie that could change -- and, in some cases, save -- their lives." You've got to love 17-year-old lesbian activists.
There's the lie again -- the MPAA isn't "blocking" teenagers from seeing it by giving it an R rating. They're insisting parents come along. It's about the last act of responsibility left in that industry. But liberal lawyer David Boies is threatening a lawsuit to protest the film "being censored by a rating system that has got simply no rational basis."
The grand prize for incoherence in this controversy goes to the industry front group "Common Sense Media." Its CEO, James Steyer, told the press, "The MPAA is proving to be the real bully in the ratings fight over this film. They continue to demonstrate that their ratings system is simply inadequate when it comes looking at a movie's content through the lens of its larger thematic issues."
But go to the group's website, and the movie review insists, "Bully's most challenging material isn't just the language but the suicides. Seeing grieving parents and friends could potentially be upsetting to teens and preteens, so they should definitely watch with adults."
The MPAA system today is loaded in favor of the filmmakers. If producers feel the MPAA is too harsh with their rating, they can lobby and protest, and often they have won. But if the viewing public finds a film's rating to be too relaxed, they have no recourse. As the Parents Television Council puts it, "their frustration almost always comes after they have been assaulted with content they were not expecting."
If "Bully" were truly the most socially important film of 2012, then the filmmaker should want to double the audience by insisting parents accompany their children. It makes no sense for him to argue the movie is so crucial that it must be seen by unaccompanied children.