Bully Movie Review
Remember when bullying was one of those humorous, A CHRISTMAS STORY type life events that we all went through at one time or another, hopefully learning to stand up for one’s self? Well that is not the case anymore and parents and adults in general need to be aware of this scary epidemic. The fact that bullying has become such a major issue to where children are committing suicide is an absolute disgusting atrocity. The documentary BULLY explores the action of its title in bullying, which is an eye-opening topic that affects each one of us from every state to our own child or neighbor.
Following a handful of kids and their parents BULLY sheds some light on this national travesty. Kelby is a recently outed lesbian. Not only does her classmates hate her but also the adults in the town have alienated even Kelby’s parents. Ja’Maya is a quiet young girl who after constant torment and abuse from schoolmates stole her mother’s gun and threatened the kids on the bus to stop. She now is in a juvenile detention center hoping to find out if she will be released early. Then we have poor little Alex, a young skinny boy with glasses is the oldest of four siblings. He has become so jaded with the pain and loneliness that, as he says, no longer knows what to feel anymore. BULLY also follows a few parents of children who have taken their own lives because of the torture they receive at school from their peers. Losing a child to such a heinous and unnecessary act, I can’t imagine the guilt and anger a parent must feel.
The stories from these victims are absolutely heartbreaking and it’s clear the topic of bullying should not be dismissed lightly such as kids being kids especially when death is involved. But director Lee Hirsch fails to capture the essence of their stories by only getting interviews from his subjects. Without capturing the action, we’re left with only taking the information at face value and subsequently losing a lot of the films impact. I don’t mean to devalue the victim’s testimonies, it just would be more meaningful if we could visually see it or at least get interviews from different involved parties other than the parents. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the filmmakers as I’m sure bullies and parents of bullies don’t want to agree to be on camera and it would be tough to capture these things on camera. Overall, I wanted more.
The one exception comes with little Alex, who’s bullies are so terrible (and stupid) that they openly beat him on a bus with a camera capturing every movement from just a few seats back. These images are horrifying but what is more horrifying is the reaction of the principal and vice principal when confronted by the distraught parents. It seems rather than tackle the issue head on they continually brush it under the rug and even shift the blame to the victim. I’m sure the presence of cameras helped push the principal to stage the appearance of furthering action to capture the assailants. But that clearly backfired as the school looked out of touch and unsympathetic. Alex’s story is the heart of BULLY and where the documentary truly succeeds in beginning to crack the surface of the many problems and facets of this terribly abusive act.
I’m shocked at the lack of support and all around encompassing hatred people still have as a whole. It’s easier to understand one bad seed but when no one comes to the aid of someone in need that is where I become sick to my stomach. Despite the constant out of focus camera work and lack of depth given, BULLY touches the heart and hopefully impacts the soul to make a difference. I’m glad the recent controversy over the MPAA ratings got cleared up so everyone may see BULLY.