|Credit: The Weinstein Co.|
According to Lee Hirsch, director of the new documentary “Bully,” over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year. While that number is staggering, we all know that bullying has been around since Cain and Abel. However, how a victim responds to the abuse is different. More and more teens are committing suicide because of a combination of bullying of peers and misunderstanding of adults.
“Bully is a deeply personal film for me,” says Hirsch. “I was bullied throughout middle school and much of my childhood. In many ways, those experiences and struggles helped shape my world view and the types of films I’ve endeavored to make. I firmly believe that there is a need for an honest, gutsy film which gives voice “Bully” has made headlines in the last few months labeling the film “controversial,” but not for the reasons you might think. The MPAA gave “Bully” a rating of “R” due mostly to one short scene where one teen utters a string of expletives at another teen. The rest of the film is actually quite tame. By granting the film this rating, it prevented much of its intended audience to see the movie. Fortunately, after a brief editing, the film has a new rating of PG-13.
“Bully” is not a fun film to watch whether you are a child or a parent but it is an important film to share with your kids. The documentary tells a number of personal stories told from different points of view. Hirsch does a good job of letting the viewer see things through the victim’s eyes. We get a glimpse of the well-meaning parents and teachers, who inadvertently, make the situation even tougher for the abused kids.
In the screening I attended, the audience was quite vocal during parts of the film where clueless adults tried to “poo poo” the situation falling on lame excuses like, “boys will be boys” and “it’s not so bad.” Those who have been there know the truth. If nothing else, this film exposes the need for parents to understand what their kids potentially face each day in the neighborhood, at the bus stop, during English class and the bus ride home. The film also shows mistakes we parents can easily make when talking to our children about such events. In the end though, it creates much fodder for you a lively discussion with your teen on the way home on whether or not they are being bullied, if they do any bullying themselves and how to stop a bully from harming a fellow student.
As Christians, we are to be light in the world of darkness. Imagine how much better our schools could be if our own children helped to fight off bullies and learned to love the unappreciated.