‘Bully’ Backlash in Full Swing

by Sonny Bunch on April 12, 2012

South Park let the makers of the new anti-bullying documentary Bully have it last night; a taste:

The most important snippet comes about halfway through that clip, when Kyle confronts Stan over the way he’s using Butters to promote himself:

Stan: This video can change how people think about bullying, Kyle. It needs to be seen by everyone!

Kyle: If it needs to be seen by everyone, then why don’t you put it out on the Internet for free?

Stan: [silence]

Kyle: Well?

Stan: What, what was the question again?

Kyle: If you really think every kid in America should see your anti-bullying movie then why don’t you put it on the Internet—for free.

Stan: Get out of here, Kyle, I’m trying to go to the bathroom.

This is, of course, a reference to the controversy over Bully‘s ratings fight with the MPAA, which had nothing to do with artistic integrity or getting the move in front of kids, and everything to do with making the filmmakers and distributors money. It was, frankly, rank hypocrisy and I was disgusted to see so many people rake the MPAA over the coals for doing their job. Glad to see Trey Parker and Matt Stone—no fans of the MPAA—point this out.

The critics have finally gotten around to ripping the film as well. Via Matt Zoller Seitz, here are Simon Abrams and R. Kurt Osenlund at Indiewire:

Abrams: The film’s unearned, faux-heart-warming message is just so solipsistic that I want to buy Philadelphia Weekly critic Sean Burns a beer for tweeting that he wanted to stuff Bully into a locker and steal its lunch money.

Osenlund: Simon, your last point about Sean Burns’s tweet is perfect, because it highlights how this movie isn’t capable of changing any bullies’ minds, and it also scoffs at the notion that we critics who hated the film are, naturally, the real bullies. I am sick to death of so many subpar documentary films coming down the pike, and accruing praise simply because the director wields a camera and a noble cause—as if the discussion the film starts will account for the film’s own shortcomings. Though I haven’t seen Tom Sadyac’s I Am, I think it’s safe to say Bully is the worst offender of this type, since, in addition to actual filmmaking that isn’t about to turn many heads, it continually sets up a conversation it isn’t equipped to have.

Brutal. For the record, I’ve been on the anti-Bully bandwagon for a while now, mostly due to the MPAA stuff. Glad to see everyone else coming around. Perhaps now’s the time to start fundraising for my pro-bullying movie. Working title: “It’s a Part of Life, Grow the F—k Up.” The MPAA probably won’t approve of that name, but whatever. You won’t see me throw a fit about it.

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