Movie Review: Bully (2012 Documentary)
Plot Summary: Kelby Johnson is an openly gay girl ostracized for her sexual orientation. Ja’Meya Jackson is suffering the consequences of pulling out a loaded gun to scare her peers . Alex Libby is socially awkward and pays for it verbally and physically. Parents Kirk and Laura Smalley and Tina and David Long are picking up the pieces after the suicides of their children. Although all of these people are in different states, they all share one painful thing: bullying.
My Review: One of the best things about this documentary is how realistically it captures bullying from the victim’s point of view. The victims are a diverse group of people who represent different circumstances. Also, it was good to see how the people around the victims reacted to what was going on. By sharing the voices of those around victims of bullying, it shows how bullying can affect an entire community rather than just one person.
Another thing the film does well is capturing the reactions of officials who are supposed to assist students and parents dealing with bullying. One particular scene involves Alex’s assistant principal dealing with a victim and a bully in the hall. While these two students aren’t the main characters of the film, the interaction between them and the assistant principal is shocking. Every scene like this challenges the viewer mentally and emotionally.
While the film makes a great attempt to capture bullying on film, there were a few flaws. One flaw is that the viewer never sees things from the bully’s point of view. Even though it is extremely important that bullying have their stories told, excluding the bully’s point of view makes the film bias. Also, the film makes the connection between bullying and suicide too simple. It is possible that other factors could have led to the suicides depicted and the film should have reflected that. Together, both of these flaws cause the film to scratch the surface of bullying instead of providing a deeper view.
In addition, the film could have done a better job showing the aftermath of the young main characters. Kelby’s aftermath was fine, but there should have been more to Alex’s and Ja’Meyah’s. If a young person experiencing bullying saw this film, then they might feel lost at the end. it should have shown how to survive bullying without hurting yourself or others.
Despite the film’s flaws, the film is a powerful view of bullying. I recommend it to anyone involved with children and anyone experiencing bullying.
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