My 5-hour trip to a New York theater this weekend was the longest I have ever traveled to watch a movie, but the 1.5-hour“Bully” film was an even longer emotional journey.
It’s hard to sit in a theater and eat popcorn as kids are being brutalized and taunted in front of your eyes. “This can’t be happening,” you think, before remembering your childhood – it does. This isn’t a John Hughes’ movie. Jokes about “geeks” aren’t funny. It’s real life and kids go home thinking their lives are not worth living.
Alex, 12, is stabbed with pencils, strangled, punched and pushed, but it’s what he says that makes you really cry. When asked how the abuse makes him feel, Alex replies, “I don’t feel anything anymore.”
The film shifts between the stories of five children, capturing the struggles of these different families and their powerful stories in context of a systemic crisis. With more than 13 million children falling victim to bullying each year, the problem transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders.
It forces us to look at greater issues, including violence, homophobia, and a pervasive “kids will be kids” attitude that perpetuates bullying culture in schools, rather than focusing our anger on the faceless child issuing beat-downs on the skinny kid in glasses who has trouble making friends.