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Bully: a review

April 15, 2013

Well first I need to say hello out there in blogland. Sorry I have been gone y’all. My computer died on me at Christmastime  and then we lost our internets. THEN, I started having seizures more often, so I had to deal with that. THEN we moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Orlando, Florida and that took a month of our time. But I’m back and writing again, though, and that is what matters.

Today, what I want to write about is the movie Bully. Yeah, I know I’m like a year late with this too. But I saw this in Redbox last night and had to rent it. This movie blew me away. It had me crying, smiling, and hoping I can do something to change things for my kids, so no one ever has to go through what I, and many other bullied kids, had to go through growing up.

Bully follows the story of a few teens, their bullies and, more importantly, their schools’ reaction to it, including what that bullying can ultimately cause. Whether it be bringing guns to school or hanging yourself, Bully shows just how far kids can be driven by their tormentors.

In Tuttle, Oklahoma, Kelby has been bullied unmercifully and her family has been treated as outcasts ever since she came out of the closet. In Mississippi, a 14-year-old honor student, Ja’Meya, still faces an uncertain fate after unending bullying made her bring her mother’s loaded gun on a school bus and brandish it to intimidate her bullies in an effort to make it stop; as a result, she was initially charged with multiple felony counts and faced decades in prison.

In Perkins, Oklahoma, Kirk and Laura Smalley are launching a national campaign against bullying after the suicide of their 11-year-old son, Ty. The film’s power is kind of undercut by its narrow geographic focus, which seems to associate bullying with conservative or working-class areas in red states. Lord knows the bullying goes on in schools in blue states and major cities as well. The filmmakers could easily have found similar cases involving the children of urban sophisticates.

Sadder than the shots of tormenting is the administration’s ineptitude. Over and over and over again we see schools just dismissing what amounts to mental and physical torture  in a place where our kids are supposed to try to learn.

Guys, this movie is powerful. I cried at least three different times. It punches you in the gut if you have been bullied. I grew up taller than everybody else, and then fatter. I remember the day I started my eating disorder in 7th grade, after a week where everybody called me beached whale instead of my real name. I remember the teachers not knowing HOW to help back then (my eternal thanks to the librarian who let me hide in the library and read instead of face the lunchroom). I remember fantasizing about either killing myself or my tormentors just to make the whole thing stop. I was lucky. I went to a small school district that cared enough to keep an eye on me and let me hide in the library and visit with the teachers. I am SO scared for my girls, going to a larger school in Florida. Ugh… middle school.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. violetyoshi permalink
    April 16, 2013 1:00 am

    This one scene where this young man was complaining about being bullied, and the teacher starts in with this insipid childlike “Why can’t you be friends?” I dealt with that during high school, and I have little to no patience with age regressive behavior like that, because it’s irritating. This woman is asking this young man, like a upset child, “Why can’t you be friends?”

    Even worse, is this behavior happening to someone like me, who’s in Special Ed, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and apparently doesn’t get social cues. Only to turn around and have a teacher who acts like they are 10 years old emotionally, and I’m supposed to respect them. Yes I know, it’s like the student who’s smarter than the teacher, and gets frustrated cause the teacher doesn’t like that they’re smarter than them. Except for the smart part lol. I got in trouble because I wouldn’t let them get away with outright harassment.

    I just, I still can’t wrap my mind around how a grown woman thinks going up to a upset young man, and going “Why can’t you be friends with him?”. His “friend” has been bullying him, and she’s acting like she’s a small child. The mental dissociation to deal with these for lack of a better term, adult-children on a daily basis. I had good teachers, I’m not saying all teachers or faculty are like this. However those that are, those that make you feel like you’re dealing with a terrible 2 year old. Who manipulate your emotions, and make it so you cannot say no, the way a small child says “I’ll cry if you tell!” Instead it’s, “I’ll punish you if you make me have to do my job!” I wish I was exaggerating.

    Just now I finally got past this, don’t worry I wasn’t triggered, I’m just rather familiar with ranting about this. I feel glad that people are showing the amount of sheer ignorance that students have to put up with from teachers. Even today, when a search on Google can explain to you that Goth or Emo student is more likely to beat up on themselves, than create a school shooting. I was Goth in high school, they thought I might pull a Columbine, fortunately it’s just sort of laughable in the same way Marilyn Manson was practically rolling his eyes out of his head, at the thought people were claiming Goths wanted to hurt people again. There’s no excuse for stereotyping, or punishing students for not being mindless followers.

    I don’t recall crying during Bullying, as much as I was relieved finally people were listening. That people were seeing students having to put up with the type of BS that no adult would stand for. That it was not just the students, that the teachers bullied students. Or like the woman above, emotionally manipulated them, just so they wouldn’t have to be bothered to do anything.

    I’m 31 years old and finally get over the programming I got from high school that no matter what I did it was wrong. I hope this film helps other kids it’s not that they are doing anything wrong, it’s that in some cases the teachers or faculty simply don’t want to put in any effort. Yes teachers are underpaid, and yes they have a lot of work to do, but there are teachers who make the student feel guilty for asking them for help, to teach them. Like my Special Ed teacher who acted as if I was just supposed to overcome my handwriting disability and perform in Math class, and who seemed to be too thick to realize it’s no different than telling someone with a more common physical disability like an inability to walk, that they were just being lazy and need to walk.

    What I am trying to illustrate, is that when students are being bullied, conspired against, by their teachers because they’re being a bad student for whatever reason. I had anxiety attacks that made me run out of the class crying, and then I was told I probably have anti-social disorder because after being told so many times I didn’t get social behavior, I figured my bullies did. Of course I appeared to have antisocial disorder, I was told the right way to behave was like those who tormented me, because apparently being the sensitive and caring person I was, was wrong according to the teachers. In fact I have a cyberbully claiming that I was misdiagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and in denial I am anti-social. I believe I was one of those people who was punished so often for being themselves, I acted antisocial as a desperate form of defense. It’s the bully victim becomes the bully situation.

    What Bully the film needs to show should they do a sequel, is how after being punished so often students are trained to act antisocial. By constantly going on time and time again about how they are wrong, they make it so the student feels their only choice is to behave in a manner that will cause people to leave them alone. Now, that depends on who the popular clique in your school is, it was preps for me so of course they hated Goths and Punks. Although, I really did become Goth because I like the music, not just because I wanted people to stop bugging me. Bullying teaches students to shut off their sense of who they are, and to just act as everyone else wants them to act, to avoid emotional pain.

    What I would like to know, is how this helps students. Oh, but I already know the answer to that, it doesn’t. It screws students up so badly they end up killing themselves. I mean, if George Orwell or Aldous Huxley heard there would be a society one day where the children kill themselves and the adults just go about their business, I don’t know if they’d believe that. It’s that absurd, it’s beyond The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. Children are suffering so horribly in school, being forced to go to a place where they face non-stop character assassination, they feel they must assassinate their character.

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