This afternoon I saw the documentary Bully.
The movie has attracted the most attention so far for its fight against the "R" rating that the MPAA gave it for foul language. Its creators believe that banning middle and high school children (who would be able to go with a PG-13 rating) is defeating the purpose. After seeing it, I have to agree.
Following a handful of students in different Midwestern and Southern towns, we are shown case after case of kids who were picked on to the point of no return; either they committed suicide, snapped and retaliated in a violent way, or have become completely numb to the events of daily life. One victim, Alex, who barely acts like a victim and hides his abuse from his parents, tells his mother he's not sure if he feels anything anymore.
What has happened to our society?
What's more frustrating than the lack of anger from the victims and their parents (they all just seem endlessly sad instead of furious) is the political way the school administrators and teachers 'handle' the problem. Isn't denial the first sign of addiction? It's like these folks are addicted to incompetence.
Put simply, they do very little to protect the victims, and you can't help but wonder if the cameras weren't rolling if they'd do anything at all.
And that's another scary detail—even with the full knowledge that there were cameras rolling, many of the bullies continued to verbally and physically attack the outcasts. But really, why should they worry? There's traditionally no accountability until a victim shows up with a gun.
The film fails to show any probable solutions to bullying—perhaps this is its greatest flaw—and instead focuses on sympathizing with the victims.
What I'd really like to see is another film that profiles schools and community organizations that have mobilized to conquer this problem with favorable results. Something that the rest of the country could model themselves after and implement to ignite change.
God knows we need it.