Monday, April 2, 2012

What March 31st-April 2nd Means To Me: Bullying and the film "Bully"

Just first have to say two great episodes of Madmen and Game Of Thrones last night. I have nothing of real value to add other than I'm glad I have them both for the next several Sundays.  I'm sure you can find some intelligent commentary somewhere else.  In fact, here's Andy Greenwald's take on the first ep of Thrones .    I haven't read it yet, but his observations are always thought provoking, and he's a fellow Walking Dead hater.  So there! 

Anyway, speaking of bullying...

Lunch money!  NOW!
I'd been looking forward to watching The Weinstein Company's heavily discussed documentary about school bullying, appropriately called "Bully," because I'm curious about the level of bullying in schools, and the psychology behind it from both the victim and the aggressor.  Bullying has been in the national conversation since a handful of American children have committed suicide due to the emotional abuse.  Going into the film, all I knew about bullying was 1) kids don't like it. 2) it hurts them 3) it's sad.

And after watching the movie on Saturday night, I now know: 1) kids don't like it. 2) it hurts them 3) it's sad.

In other words, the movie brought absolutely nothing to the table other than some manipulative sob stories, and I, honestly, couldn't tell if some of the scenes were staged due to the intimacy of the camera.  The movie followed a handful of kids who go through physical and emotional abuse from their classmates on a daily basis, but they are the kinds of stories I've heard about for years.  In fact, they were the kind of stories I heard about when I was a kid.  Since bullying has recently garnered media interest, we've heard a lot about internet bullying/facebook bullying, and how that was difficult for the school districts to control.  And this point wasn't even mentioned in the movie.  Actually, at one point, I remember wondering whether or not the subjects even HAD the internet because it was never once discussed, and they seemed to spend a lot of time playing outside throwing rocks at trains and chasing rabbits.

"Bully" also didn't even bother to explore the culture of bullying from the side of the bully.  They never asked the question "why" or "what causes it?"  The film neglected to show what might become of a bully once they grow up, or when these kids tend to stop bullying.  They didn't posit any thoughts about the bully's homelife or if poor parenting had any influence.  No confessionals from bullies.  No behavioral therapists were interviewed. Nothing.

Also, the absence of any sort of sociological viewpoint was a missed opportunity.  All the subjects seemed to come from, pardon the term, "red states."  Whether it was Georgia, or Iowa, or Nebraska, none of the subjects resided in big cities.  I don't really want to make this political, but perhaps I should.  I have no clue if bullying is less of a problem in more "liberal" areas, where an idea of community is perhaps stronger, but the idea of children cementing their standing through force might be a symptom of a culture that celebrates firearms, individualism, and intolerance (in fact, one of the subjects was expelled from school for threatening her bullies with a gun).  I wonder if there is a correlation between the two, and if there is, that would truly be an eye-opening study, and could immediately attack the root of the problem.  Because if your solution to bullying is something like "well, teachers should pay more attention" or "the bus driver should stop the bus if a kid gets punched," then you're just picking at the flies and ignoring the swamp.

And, speaking of, the movie didn't even attempt to discuss possible solutions to the problem, aside from raising awareness.  And, yes, awareness has value, but if there's no plan beyond that, an issue like this will never truly go away, and probably will only get worse. 


  1. Did they have a story about a new kid who was bullied out of dimensions? Because that would've been fitting.

    In the older version of the movie Bully, mixed in with the admittedly gratuitous nudity, they just killed the bully. So that kind of works too.

    1. hey eric, where we can find that story, its interesting..

    2. You can find it where they don't sell shit-ass beauty products for old bags stupid enough to think Emu oil is going to make them look 20.

    3. personalized spam! how fun

  2. ha...sadly they didn't have a section devoted to Eric Eats Eggs