Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade has quickly proven itself to be one of our favorite teen movies in years, a sympathetic, thoughtful, funny, painful examination of life at a time when every crisis doesn’t just feel huge; it is huge, no matter what the adults in your life might think. It’s also, as a consequence of its R rating—because it uses the teenage-mind-corrupting word “fuck” a whopping five times, and acknowledges the existence of sex—a movie that the kids it’s about won’t be able to see without bringing a parent along. That’s a huge bummer, and one that the film’s distributors at A24 are now trying to correct, organizing a series of free, no-ratings-enforced screenings of the film around the country on August 8.
Unsurprisingly, though, the move has already brought the fuck-averse moral guardians out in force. The champion-level pearl-clutchers at the Parents Television Council decrying the charitable move as an attempt to undermine the all-powerful authority of the MPAA, regardless of how good Burnham’s movie is, or how much life-giving empathy it encourages.
“Subjective declarations such as this one,” the PTC said in a statement today, “That some content is ‘too important’ to be labeled in accordance with the standards set forth by the MPAA and understood, trusted and relied upon by parents, undermine and negate the entire purpose of having the content rating system in the first place.” Picking up steam they add, “In this instance, and based upon empirical data of this film’s content”—i.e., the five-fucks issue—“the Hollywood studio at issue here is grotesquely and irresponsibly usurping parental authority. Either the standard means something or it means nothing.” And while we’re kind of surprised that the PTC would pivot there at the end in order to agree with the rest of us that the MPAA’s jury-rigged, subjective, easily manipulated standards functionally mean nothing, it’s nice to have their surprise support on this issue.
Anyway, you can find your closest free screening of Eighth Grade here. That being said, tickets are first-come-first-serve, so maybe leave a little room for the teens on this one, huh?