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For a moment, the small crowd in the theater was unsure of what reaction to exhibit. Was it anger? Or sadness? Or shock?
That was the scene during one of the most troubling and emotionally unsettling scenes in the recently released film “Bully.” A boy had just been forced to shake hands with his tormentor. His bully. The victim had to face the reality of seeing his enemy get away without punishment. This is a common occurrence in the documentary, directed by Lee Hirsch.
The release of this film was not without debate. Following a controversial decision about the film’s rating by the MPAA, a petition helped move the rating down from R (and unrated) to PG-13.
“Bully” follows the lives of multiple children who have been forever impacted by the brutal words and actions of their peers. Alex, a middle schooler in Iowa, faces harassment not only in the school – but on the bus to and from as well. He is strangled, punched, stabbed with pens and threatened. That doesn’t even complete the list.
When he returns home, he has to face his parents and tell them that he is alright. It is not until later in the film that he finally admits what is truly happening on the bus. The film of the boys harming Alex was violent enough for the producers to hand over the tape to the school board and Alex’s parents. When his parents finally get a meeting with the principal, she says that she “has been on that bus before. Those kids are as good as gold.”
“I just got politicianed,” says Alex’s mother as they leave the school.
“Bully” plays the viewers’ minds like an instrument, playing all of the correct chords and pulling all of the right strings. The film creates a fascinating dichotomy between a hell and heaven in which the victims of bullying live everyday. The children find a heaven, a reprieve from the bullying, at home, while their school is a nightmare and leads numerous children to suicide.
One truly touching moment of the film is the funeral of a young boy who had committed suicide. His best friend cries over his casket as they lower him into the ground. I was brought to tears as every other member of the audience should have been.
There is a glimmer of hope though. The parents of two children who committed suicide created an awareness campaign and are currently planning rallies across the United States.
“Bully” is a touching film that should be viewed not only by parents, but also by students in schools across America. It shows the true effects of bullying and the ripples that the deaths and pain leave behind. The film shows a startling reality that everyone needs to be shown. “Bully” is an eye-opening film, and it is one of the best main stream documentaries in quite awhile.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Patrick Fort at Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org.