Saturday, 29 June 2013

Bully (2011) - ★★½

Director: Lee Hirsch
Writers: Lee Hirsch, Cynthia Lowen

Bully is an average documentary that tackles a subject that is very dear to my heart. That is bullying in high-schools. I say it's average because it doesn't fully explore the kinds of bullying that goes on (there's not one mention of cyber-bullying I believe). It's pretty heartbreaking to see, but I don't think it's close to scraping the implications that bullying can have on a child. They cover suicides and self-harming, but it just doesn't quite get through to us the way it should. We don't get the facts or figures of bullying, but rather the stories of a few children and parents that have been through it. It just doesn't do justice to such an important subject.

We mainly follow the story of one kid, who we see get bullied on a daily basis on the bus. It shows us that the school system has no idea how to handle these situations, and neither do the parents (who actually make some pretty rotten decisions). It also focuses on a young-lesbian in a small country town, who in my opinion gets bullied the worst of all. She has to go through a lot of shit, even teacher's have commented on her "sinful" nature. There's also the semi-famous story of the girl who brought a gun onto the bus to threaten her bullies (and was sent to juvenile correction while her bullies got off scot-free). Yes, this documentary covers their stories really well, it just doesn't tackle the bigger picture at all.

Anyone who is ignorant of bullying in schools would have an eye-opening experience watching Bully. As for me, I've had to live through taunts, death threats and isolation (due to myself being a homosexual in a Catholic school). I was highly disappointed in this movie. It just didn't delve deep enough into the repercussions of these situations. Sure, they tell us about a few suicides, but they didn't tell us about just how many kids are being targeted throughout the US. Kids will be able to watch this documentary and say "I've lived through that," but really that's all they can do with it. There's nothing substantial here to call it great, just a bunch of very sad stories that may make us shed a tear or two.

What's worse is that they don't really have an answer to tackle bullying! This was their chance to make a difference in high-schools throughout the US (even world-wide). Instead, we get the testimonies of a few distraught parents whose children have committed suicide. It talks of one or two organizations dedicated to reducing bullying, but it doesn't tell children HOW they can deal with it themselves. All Bully did was make me depressed. They didn't really teach me anything except that the children involved have a terrible time at school. Most of the intelligent population KNOW that bullying is happening in every school across the globe. All this film did was show us a few examples and try to make us cry. I'm extremely disappointed in this film, which in all honesty doesn't represent the subject enough to be called a good documentary.

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