For the past few weeks there has been headline after headline of this whole MPAA vs. Bully. vs. The Weinstein Company debacle. In short: MPAA, the rating system, wanted to slap an NC-17 rating on top of the film. NC-17 is the most polarizing rating a film can get; no children under 17 would be allowed to watch the movie. That is ultimately the worst thing that could happen to this film because well, it’s about kids under 17 (for the most part) who are being bullied and the after affects. Well Bob and Harvery Weinstein were not having it. Letters were sent out, press releases, everything stating that the rating system NEEDED to change because this movie NEEDS to be seen by EVERYONE. Oh, okay. Eventually the brothers got their way (as they always do) and the film is going to be released unrated into theaters. Amazing, right?
I really didn’t care about this story at all until I read Kevin Smith’s book, Tough Shit, in one reading last night. Do you ever just read a book cover to cover in one reading because it is so good? I love when that happens. Or the reverse: I read Bossypants so slowly because I didn’t want to rush through it. Anyways, the book is absolutely fantastic and filled with so many great tidbits about Hollywood and what not. An even longer story short, Harvey Weinstein bought Clerks from the Sundance Film Festival in 1994. With every movie that Kevin Smith ever made with them, and with every movie that was released under the Weinsteins (more so after they left being handled by Disney) they tried to create a certain amount of buzz. Smith goes on to state that while print ads and trailers were effective, those under the Weinsteins were encouraged to make a story out of anything they could: interviews, entertainment pieces, walking down the street.
So knowing that now and knowing that Harvey & Bob are both behind this film, it makes me think. I’m sure the film is graphic, and it should be because bullying is a very serious issue and needs to be illustrated in as much of a realistic manner as it can. But knowing the history with the MPAA and the brothers, was this all intentional? I’m going to say hell yes because while I’m sure the film would’ve found it’s footing without any of this ratings brouhaha, a little extra media attention never hurt anybody. And now you know. Now almost everyone knows about this movie. Which is good, because I believe in the message of this movie (i’ve yet to see it) but man, what an absolutely master class in promotion.