“Bully”: Dramatized Production or Honest Portrayal?
Kim and I have been extremely busy over the past few weeks but we found some time to sit down and watch a movie together. There have been a lot of good movies that have arrived on Netflix streaming recently (Avengers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Super, etc…) and I was hoping maybe we get to watch one of those. But, as I continued scrolling along I saw that “Bully” was now available and my wife and I both sat down to watch it.
“Bully” is a documentary from 2011. A film crew follows the lives of multiple children who are all experiencing some form of bullying. There is one teenager who is bullied and shunned because she is gay; there is one young girl who got so sick of the bullying and name calling that she actually brought a gun on a school bus and threatened the bullies and then there is a young man named Alex who is constantly tormented, picked on, bullied and beat up both physically and emotionally.
Watching this movie was heartbreaking. I was tormented and bullied a lot when I was younger but I don’t remember it ever being as bad as it was portrayed in this movie. Not only were the children in this movie particularly cruel, but many of the adults were ineffectual and actually probably made things worse. In particular was the principal of the school Alex attends.
In the beginning the principal seems like she is trying to do the right thing and get by on what she has available but it quickly becomes apparent that she is either in way over her head or has no idea what is going on in her own school or how to fix it. There is a scene where she forces a bully and his victim to shake hands. When the victim refused to shake hands with the bully, she sends the bully on his way and then chastises the victim for not giving the bully a second chance. She even tells the victim he’s as bad as the bully since he won’t shake his hand and forgive him. The victim is clearly upset and tells her that the bully torments him on a daily basis; that he threatens to kill him and smacks him around. He then walks away from her and she’s just like, “Oh well.” This was the scene in the movie that blew me away and will probably be the one that sticks with me for a long time.
In another scene, the principal is confronted about the bullying happening to Alex on the bus he takes back and forth to school. When asked about the bus the first time, the principal says, “Oh, I ride these buses from time to time and when I do the kids are as good as gold.” Then she asks which bus Alex rides on and changes her tune, saying, “Oh, that bus can be bad. Here, let’s change Alex to another bus.” Pitiful.
As parents, we do our best to supply our kids with the tools they need to survive but none of that is any good if they aren’t supplied the same guidance and protection at school (considering they spend eight hours a day, five days a week with these people). Until I saw it in this film, I would have never believed a scene like that could play out in today’s world. My son will soon be going into 2nd Grade and watching this movie has him more worried for him than I was before.
Chris is a very loving, affectionate and smart kid but he also doesn’t always take social queues very well. He doesn’t understand when others don’t want him around or that they don’t appreciate what he’s doing. He already had a few kids in school picking on him last school year.
Thankfully, Chris has been good about telling us what’s going on when these issues have occurred. We’ve been able to address the issues with him and help him understand what’s going on and hopefully how to avoid these types of situations. From what I understand his school is not very tolerant of bullying but maybe I should do a little more investigating into the school’s tolerance policies and how they are enforced.
Have you seen the movie “Bully”? Do you think they just focused on the worst of the worst or is it a honest portrayal of what is really happening? Do you have any stories to share about being bullied or standing up to a bully? Please, leave a comment and let me know.