Bullying is a constant presence in contemporary childhoods. It is the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation; over 13 million kids were bullied in America last year. Bullying leads to intense emotional trauma for certain children and most authority figures brush the accusations from each party aside and simply say, “Kids will be kids." The issue with bullying is that the people who are suppose to protect the children, those who should care about their student’s safety, ignore the complaints from worried parents and the pleading of the children who want a safe place to learn. The authorities need to see hard evidence of bullying and realize that it is a huge issue we cannot ignore anymore. Lee Hirsh is providing said proof and the tools to help. He directed, co-wrote and filmed Bully and is very much involved with the entirety of the film, including an unflinching look into the characters and spending a lot of time with them while getting to know their families and their emotional struggle with bullying.
Bully follows the lives of three children living in northern America and the bullying they undergo every day, all day long. Our main protagonist is named Alex and he is the sweetest 12-year-old 7th grader I have ever seen. He assures his very concerned parents that his friends are simply "messing with him." Alex is strangled, stabbed with sharpened pencils, kicked in the torso, punched and followed by his attackers. It is extremely difficult to watch. Lee Hirsh mentioned that he did not want to interfere with the bullying because it was crucial to get the real attacks on camera, but it was one of the hardest things about the project, not standing up for the bullied. Hirsh mentioned that he was filming with the Canon 5d Mark II, which looks like a still photographic camera, therefore the children were not fully aware that he was recording video. This gave him the fly on the wall advantage and the children simply let him slip into the background of their 2009-2010 school year, with this Hirsh was able to capture moments of pure cruelty.
Another storyline follows Kelby, a lesbian trying to live a normal life in Tuttle, Oklahoma. She came out as a lesbian and was kicked off all her sport teams with brutal attacks from classmates and, worse, teachers. She is being pressured to leave her town but refuses to be pushed around any longer.
The other stories that Hirsh captures are heart breaking and leave a mark; they highlight the geographical, racial, ethnic and economic issues that bullying creates within its environment. He also tells the tale of two students who took their own lives because of bullying. The parents of said students help launch an anti-bullying organization, and it is spreading quickly. “The Ellen Show” and Oprah have already become involved in the campaign and more and more people who have access to the masses are speaking up against the violence behind bullying and the endangered lives of the bullied.
Bully is a wonderful, powerful film that finally shows society the consequences of Bullying and gives the audience the tools to help prevent this horrible issue for our future students, to help them feel safe in their learning environment. Hirsh said “Suicide is the ultimate consequence of bullying” and he is saddened at how the children are so young and have their whole lives ahead of them but cannot seem to grasp the idea that things will get better after high school. Go see this film and educate yourself on what is going on within the social circles of today’s youth. IT GETS BETTER!!!
4 out of 5 stars