The adult movie critics may have missed the point of this movie entirely, as well they would. Took my teen son and daughter yesterday, and to them, it was a frightful look at the day-to-day loneliness of certain kids who don’t fit in.
However, to Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun Times, it is a sincere, but not great documentary. Like me, he watched through adult eyes and made assumptions, based on the effects it might have on a younger audience, who this film is intended to touch. He assumed it would do little, as did I after watching the credits roll.
Here we are though, a day later and I’m haunted by footage inside the school bus, where the “normal” kids mercilessly harass their victim…or the other bus; where a distraught 14-year-old girl, backed to her limits, pulls out a handgun…
Or the gay teen, who is forced to move to another school, cause even the teachers berate her….
And especially the balloon bunches, which are ceremoniously set aloft. Hand printed on each is the name of a child who took his own life—a child who could no longer bear the constant buggery and pain inflicted by those so-called, “boys will be boys” or “that’s how girls are.”
No they are not. We teach our kids to skip empathy. “No time for that. It’s all about you. Grow and thrive and kick the rest to the curb.”
And the teachers. The administration. Certainly there are some who recognize this issue and will do all they can for change. So many others though, simply get through the day and applaud grade point numbers and hope the latest budget cuts do not include their position.
Or…as I have personally seen in our own school district—take the attitude that the few “different kids” are disruptive to the larger group and they should either be stifled or removed. Not talking about the bully few…no no.
As illustrated in one of the scenes in the movie, the bullies seem to charm the adults and terrorize the kids, thus turning the victims as the problem. At least in the tunnel-vision viewpoints of these school staffers.
Can this be changed?
The fact this film was produced and distributed (albeit limited audience) provides hope that a slow, yet steady movement will someday make a difference.
Is it a perfect movie?
Is it effective?
Ask any school age kid who viewed it….
Meantime, I say, keep an eye on your children…