“Bully,” Lee Hirsch’s moving and troubling documentary about the misery some children inflict upon others, arrives at a moment when bullying, long tolerated as a fact of life, is being redefined as a social problem. “Just kids being kids” can no longer be an acceptable response to the kind of sustained physical and emotional abuse that damages the lives of young people whose only sin is appearing weak or weird to their peers.
And while the film focuses on the specific struggles of five families in four states, it is also about — and part of — the emergence of a movement. It documents a shift in consciousness of the kind that occurs when isolated, oppressed individuals discover that they are not alone and begin the difficult work of altering intolerable conditions widely regarded as normal.
The feeling of aloneness is one of the most painful consequences of bullying. It is also, in some ways, a cause of it, since it is almost always socially isolated children (the new kid, the fat kid, the gay kid, the strange kid) who are singled out for mistreatment. For some reason — for any number of reasons that hover unspoken around the edges of Mr. Hirsch’s inquiry — adults often fail to protect their vulnerable charges. […]
There is a little swearing in the movie, and a lot of upsetting stuff, but while some of it may shock parents, very little of it is likely to surprise their school-age children. Whose sensitivity does the association suppose it is protecting? The answer is nobody’s: That organization, like the panicked educators in the film itself, holds fast to its rigid, myopic policies to preserve its own authority. The members of the ratings board perform a useful function, but this is not the first time they’ve politicianed us.
I’m so glad this movie was made, though I don’t think I could sit through it. When we moved to the South, I was the new kid, though it wasn’t the first time. The difference was that I was horribly bullied for over a year and the teachers and administration didn’t do a damn thing about it. When I came up to two of my teachers during recess with a fresh, red slap mark on my face, they insisted they saw nothing. When kids were spreading awful rumors, the school counselor called me in and asked if it was my fault, if I did something to do it. None of those kids were ever called in by the counselor or the principal. The only time anything was done (though it wasn’t much) was when my mother was kind enough to give him the kick in the butt by telling him she’d be calling a news station who would love to report on this, since my own efforts to make it stop weren’t working. I hope many see the movie/documentary and have their eyes opened, and maybe it’ll be better for other kids.
I’m going to preface this by saying that my brain is just WEIRD when it comes to dreams. I only remember the super weird or ones that seem normal but actually aren’t once you wake up. My friends have one favorite that has been labeled the streetcleaner dream which is a story for another day. This one I just had to tell all of you because you understand Doctor Who and my outside friends…don’t.
So I had a dream that I entered with the knowledge that I had been asked out by someone named Stephen (the fact that his name like this is important later) , we went out a few times, and I had to stop home with him after a lunchdate because he had forgotten something. As we were walking towards his front door, it occured to me I didn’t know his last name, so I asked him. He replied that it was Moffat.
Stephen Moffat. What the hell.
So he sees the confusion of my face and clarifies that, yes, his father does write for Doctor Who…did I want to see the episode descriptions for the new series? Yes, sure, okay. So we walk into the house and he’s going to show me the descriptions when his father jumps out in a silk robe and jeans (no clue) and says, “Going somewhere, my pretties?”
My brain can’t even process the weirdness of it all.
But I’d really like to ask my brain what’s really bothering me about it: why it thought that it was natural for Steven Moffat to name his son Stephen.