In the past several years, bullying has become a critical issue that plagues today’s youth.
With high profile suicides like Jamey Rodemeyer and Tyler Clementi, bullying is beginning to be seen as a serious issue that affects people deeply and often leads to self-destructive behavior and severe emotional damage.
The new documentary “Bully” tackles this serious subject by focusing on young people throughout the country who have been relentlessly bullied. It features two boys in particular, Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, who were the only two victims of bullying in the film to commit suicide.
The film initially opened in very select theaters in New York and Los Angeles on March 30. It was further released to a wider audience on April 13.
Before “Bully” was released in theaters, it faced controversy as to what rating the film should receive. Some argued for an R-rating, due to its coarse language, while others argued for a PG-13 rating, which was eventually chosen.
The movie follows high school and middle school students across the nation in states like Georgia, Iowa, Texas and Mississippi to take a look into the lives of these young victims.
In “Bully,” Director Lee Hirsch features five families from across the United States who must live with seeing their children suffer at the hands of bullies while nobody seems to do anything about it. While each kid featured in the documentary comes from a different background, there is one thing that ties them together–the fact that they are bullied.
One of the teens featured, 14-year-old Ja’Meya, once tried to take matters into her own hands by bringing a handgun onto the school bus. While no other students were harmed, she was taken to a juvenile detention center but was later acquitted.
Another teen, 16-year-old Kelby Johnson, was tormented and shunned by people in her school and hometown after she revealed she was a lesbian.
One other case, which was perhaps the most violent showcased in the film, was the story of Alex Libby. Throughout the film, the abuse this boy suffers is shown.
Alex is stabbed with pencils, slapped, punched and gruesomely threatened simply because he told a kid on the bus that he was his “buddy.” The boy Alex talked to began to yell obscenities and even threateningly told him the methods he would use if he were to kill him.
Overall, the film takes a very accurate look into how big of a problem bullying has become, especially in recent years. In many scenes throughout, the stories of Tyler Long and Ty Smalley are highlighted.
In perhaps the darkest and most emotional scene of the film, Tina Long, Tyler’s mother, shows the closet where her son’s body was discovered hanging. This moment would be enough to move even the strongest-willed person to tears.
In another compelling scene, a principal from one of the schools featured forces two young boys to shake hands after an argument, although the boy being teased resists and insists that the other boy will continue to bully him.
This scene, among many others, shows just how ignorant some of the school administrators are to the problems happening within their own halls.
Several celebrities, including actress Zooey Deschanel, comedian Joel McHale and popstars Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, have also voiced their support for the film and its mission. Bieber has also contributed to the effort by offering a song of his called “Born to Be Somebody” to a playlist made for the movie called “Bully List.”
Other songs with empowerment themes on the list include “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato, “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera and “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga.
In the end, “Bully” has a running time of only 90 minutes and is worth every penny.
While the film has been released to a select number of theaters across the country, it’s worth the trip to see it. This film has the power to open people’s eyes to what is actually happening in our schools and give victims of bullying a voice.