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Get ‘Bully’ online

Kevin Noonan | Monday, April 16, 2012

Like many highly intelligent, self-important members of society, I only lend my attention to the most noble and artistically highbrow forms of entertainment. All right, none of that’s true; well maybe just the self-important part.

Truth be told, I watch a lot of “South Park.” Like, a lot of “South Park.” And for non-fans of the show, any hippie can tell you that the show, for all its inappropriate and asinine humor, often can hit the nail directly on the head of a touchy social issue. Popular or not, the people at “South Park” often have some very deep things to say about some very important things.

Last week’s episode focused on bullying in grade schools, and more specifically on the attempts at schools and outside sources to stop bullying. Much of the show pokes fun at the new documentary, “Bully,” which is receiving a lot of buzz that portrays it as an unflinching look at how bullying affects children and families.

Hidden among the bathroom humor and some very clever shots at the “Kony 2012″ creators is one quote that struck a chord with me.

“If it needs to be seen by everybody, then why wouldn’t you put it on the Internet for free?”

In the episode, one character is criticizing another for trying to make money off of a documentary made about ending bullying. It’s a fairly clear and direct message to the people behind “Bully.”

The film was given an R-rating by the MPAA, to which the Weinstein Company (the film’s studio) adamantly and publicly protested. At first, the company claimed it would release the film unrated, which would render it basically unseen by the public, due to the fact that every major theater chain has a policy against screening unrated films.

“We’re working to do everything we can to make this film available to as many parents, teachers and students across the country,” said Stephen Bruno, Weinstein Company president of marketing.

They eventually cut some profanity out and the film received a new PG-13 rating, allowing children to see it in theaters.

But that’s not the point. As the “South Park” character said, if it’s so important that parents, teachers and students across the country see this documentary, and its message and content is so necessary for our nation’s school systems, then why not put it on the internet for free? Wouldn’t that be the right thing to do?

I understand that the studio deserves to make money for its work; I am not opposed to that. So I propose a compromise.

Late last year, comedian Louis C.K. released his newest comedy special for $5 online. He made $250,000 in just 12 hours. If the studio behind “Bully” did something similar, they could make a return on their investment while allowing everyone in the country to access it for a fair price.

I don’t disagree that everybody needs to see this; bullying needs to be curtailed. But if the “Bully” makers really believe that, they should do something about it.