Whether it was Alex who was persecuted for being nerdy and different, or Kelby who was ostracized by her small town for being lesbian, or JaíMaya who was driven to brandishing a gun on a bus by the constant bullying from her peers, or even young Tyler, who took his own life at age 11 because he could no longer endure his peersí torment, itís a problem that has been going on for many years, but seems to finally be getting more attention. "Back in the day" when kids would pick on one another and get into fights, the school handled things with an old-fashioned spanking or better yet, sent the offending kid back home to parents who actually cared about their childrenís behavior and would administer punishment themselves. These days, things are different and itís quite apparent from a lot of the footage in Bully that some parents really donít care what their children may be doing to others. Seeing some of the responses from the school administrators was also really sad as well. On the other hand, the parents of those being bullied were typically highly proactive in trying to stop the offensive behavior happening to their kids, at least they were when they knew what was happening. A big part of the problem is that the kids being bullied arenít too forthcoming about what is happening to them, whether it is because they donít want their parents to think less of them because they are being victimized or for some, itís because they felt that interaction with these kids, even negative interaction, was still something. They felt it was better than being lonely and ignored.
As depressing as these kidsí plights were to watch, it was also refreshing to see how much momentum and awareness has been gained because of this film project. There are parents working with schools across the nation to educate kids about bullying and, most of all, to tell them to stand up against bullying when they see it. Some of these kids featured in this documentary have really found their place, especially Alex, who has gained quite a bit of notoriety since the film has come out.
Included in the special features is some footage of Alex since the filmís release, as well as the state of Sioux City since the film. There are also character featurettes on Adam and Kelsey, several deleted scenes, a number of promo spots for the film, as well as featurettes on the filmís momentum in schools and communities. Did you know that the great Meryl Streep was bullied as a child? You will after watching the special features. Thereís even a wonderful piece on how a group of kids took a childís bullying on Facebook and turned it into support for him. Finally, there is a special edited edition of Bully for younger audiences, since the original film does have its share of language and adult themes. While I viewed the film on Blu-ray, there wasnít anything special or spectacular about the visuals, so it would be fine to see it on DVD, although I donít know if the DVD version includes the edited version.
Bully is a great film for kids to see. Despite the depressing content, kids who are being bullied without their parentsí knowledge just might speak up after seeing this film, or better yet, one might speak up on another childís behalf.