#buzz-kills

FACEBOOK

Twitter

WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Bully

13 comments | March 20th, 2012

(story submitted by Dina Gachman, from Bureaucracy for Breakfast)

My three-year-old niece had to get glasses a few months back. Her specs are flashy and pink and she adores them (she’s a mini fashionista), yet seeing her so proudly push the glasses up her nose for the first time, one of my first thoughts was: “If any kids make fun of her I’ll kill them.” Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but the knee-jerk reaction to her innocent little accessory came from a fact most of us know all too well: Kids can be cruel. Bullying happens, and it’s not pretty.

Last night I got the chance to see the controversial documentary BULLY. If you haven’t heard, the reason it’s controversial isn’t because it’s a heartbreaking, honest, raw look at real kids across the US being physically and verbally pummeled by their classmates while their teachers and administrators shrug it off. It’s not because it frankly looks at what it’s like to be a gay teen in a small Oklahoma town (newsflash – it’s hell), or because it doesn’t sugar-coat the horror of parents dealing with the suicide of a child who would rather take their own life than endure one more day at school getting pushed into a locker or called “fag” and “pussy” by their so-called peers. Nope. Bully is controversial because the MPAA slapped an “R” rating on the film, preventing the people who need to see this film the most (junior high and high school aged kids) from seeing it.

It’s infuriating, and it makes you wonder if the MPAA’s decision isn’t some sort of political maneuver to keep school districts and the bureaucrats who run them safe and secure in their jobs. Maybe that sounds like a far-fetched conspiracy theory, but seeing this film you really have to wonder what they were thinking. Is it because the bullies drop a few f-bombs during the film while they’re jabbing a defenseless kid with a pencil or telling him they’re going to shoot and kill him? Eleven-year olds probably know more creative variations of cuss words than adults do, for better or worse. It’s not like they’ll be forever damaged if they see and hear kids saying and doing things that they most likely experience every day on the school bus.

Maybe the MPAA thinks the actual moments of physical violence will “disturb” kids. The filmmakers Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen manage to capture harrowing moments that make you wonder how often their finger hovered over the camera’s stop button. But don’t let that stop you from seeing the film. Some moments are hard to take, sure, but they’re a lot harder for the people actually living them. For their sake, see the film.

Most of us know bullying exists and the filmmakers make sure to point out that the issue really is the people who say, “Well kids are just cruel” or “boys will be boys” and just sit by while for so many kids this problem is real – it’s not some cute Disney issue that all works out in the end. Watching how the school administrators react to this abuse in the film is nothing short of shocking. In a sense, their apathy and inaction are akin to war crimes. If that sounds silly, watch the film.

Bully opens on March 30. Not only should the “R” rating be overturned so kids can see this film and learn that standing by while the kid in the next seat gets called “stupid” or “fish face” day after day is just as bad as being the bully, it should be overturned because if Bully isn’t required viewing in every school that’ll be a real shame, and a waste of a powerful film that might just make a change for the better.

So far no one’s made fun of my niece’s pink eyeglasses. I hope they never will. {end story}

Were you ever bullied?  Were you ever the bully?  Go on and get it off your chest…

(Dina Gachman’s blog Bureaucracy for Breakfast is a comedic look at the economic divide, and has been featured on AOL News, NPR, and Chelsea Handler’s Borderline Amazing Comedy. She recently launched the online graphic novel Fling Girl, and her comic book about Elizabeth Taylor comes out in September from Bluewater Comics. She’s on Twitter @TheElf26)
 

13 comments

  • Aliza

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    When I was in first grade I stood up the school bully. I’ll admit that it was more out of feeling like I had no other option and nowhere to run without being caught not because I was so brave. Regardless, despite everyone else in the yard telling me to “run or you’re dead”, I stood there. I’m not sure M.T. (yes, I still remember his name) knew what to do and so the moment passed without pain or violence. Phew.

    Report this comment

  • Question

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    Bullying has been an issue ever since we’ve had kids and schools and playgrounds. Why’s it seem so much worse now? Is it worse now or are we just all more aware of it?

    Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    I have not been able to watch this movie yet but I think you are so right. It’s like some things we do to protect kids only wind up hurting them more. Maybe we should not let them watch cartoons where characters beat each other up with mallets and things.

    Report this comment

    • OOC

      Posted on March 21, 2012

      There’s a mess o’studies (that’s science speak) about the effects of cartoon and video game violence, making kids less sensitive to the consequences of same. Is violent entertainment, entertaining, violent or both? What are the long term consequences…anyone know?

      Report this comment

  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    I was a bully.

    I apologize to her. It makes me hate myself and wonder how I could have been so mean.

    Report this comment

  • Stoopid

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    How ironic is this? The MPAA is protecting people from — bullies?

    Report this comment

  • Fessing Up

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    I was the person who sat there and did nothing. I had a bunch of friends in HS who were verbal/humor bullies. They were smart and witty, and they used these abilities to denigrate and mock others. I laughed at their jokes and did nothing to stop what they were doing to people. I feel guilty. Every kid should see this movie.

    Report this comment

    • OOC

      Posted on March 21, 2012

      We saw it last night, Fessing. And YES, every kid, every school administrator and every parent should see this movie. Then they should talk about it. We’re glad you are now. We all make mistakes (some bigger than others), it’s how and when we fix them that makes the next difference.

      Our opinion, the MPAA is now as complicit as anyone who sits silently by….but they’re not kids.

      Report this comment

  • Mia

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    This reminds me of that great quote from a Protestant pastor named Niemoller who was an outspoken critic of Hitler and the Nazis.You have to speak out!

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Report this comment

Have a Comment? Share It. All opinions but NO judgments allowed.

MORE STORIES