After all the publicity given on national talk shows the day the trailer was released, I expected to walk into a full theater Wednesday night when I went to see the movie "Bully." The theater was anything but crowded- my husband and I were the only ones there.
Given, it was 7:40 on a week night. But with the movie's PG-13 (no longer R) rating and all the "I'd take my kids to see it" and "kids need to see it" comments on Facebook, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed by the lack of turnout.
When the documentary was over, I approached the managers at the UA and asked them if a lot of people had come to see the movie since its showing began in Amarillo last Friday. Surprisingly, they told me "no." One manager said documentaries typically don't do well in the theater. I then went to the lady in the box office and asked her if she'd sold a lot of tickets for that particular movie. She reviewed her computer records for May 2 and fewer than 15 tickets had been purchased for the movie on Wednesday. Her opinion was that a lot of parents don't want their kids to see the violence and hear the language featured in a movie like that, let alone sit through it with them.
After sitting through the documentary myself and seeing firsthand what it offers, what it explains, what it brings to light, I have to throw in my own two cents. This movie touched me and makes me want to take a stand like some of the real-life characters in it.
Two characters around which the documentary is structured are a 17-year-old boy and an 11-year old boy who have taken their own lives. Suicide is tragic, but this documentary is about the real-life facts. These can be the results when kids are riddled with cruelty.
Another character is a teenaged girl who has gone public with her sexuality- she is gay, and the people in her "bible belt Oklahoma" town turned against her and her family when they found out. Her parents give her the choice to move to another school or even another state, and she chooses to stay and face the music in hopes of making a change. Does it work? I won't spoil it for you.
A girl in the Deep South had enough of people tormenting her at school, so one day she carried a gun on the bus and then pulled it on the other kids. After she was arrested, she faced the possibility of being charged with numerous felony accounts.
And who could forget Alex, the boy whose face has been associated with the movie through photos, posters and websites? Because he was born at 26 weeks old and has a quiet nature, he suffers abuse from pushes and punches to strangulation and name-calling.
How do the parents of all these kids handle it? In my opinion, some better than others. Some take a stand while others seem dumbfounded. School officials? Don't even get me started! Let's just say I hope the schools here in the Texas Panhandle are equipped with more caring, more observant, more attentive staff than those in the documentary.
Ok, so what's my point? Parents, take your children to see this movie! It may not be at the Amarillo UA next week, so make it snappy! Whether your kids are ten, 13, 16, 18- it doesn't matter. The suicide of an 11-year-old boy proves bullying starts at a young age. Kids, tell Mom and Dad you want to see this movie. The PG-13 rating allows access for all teens. I'd just about guarantee kids have heard (and probably used) the language used in the movie, and many of them have probably seen the same kind of violence with their own eyes.
Watch the movie- it may give you new perspective. It may not sway you a bit.
As for me, I'm stepping it up. This problem is worse than many people realize, and problems causing the deaths of children are problems quickly needing to be solved. The clincher for me was a father telling the camera he knows nothing will be done about the death of his 11-year-old son. "We're nobodies." he says. If you ask me, everybody is somebody. And everybody deserves to be treated equally.
Watch the movie.
When you're done, tell me you still want to be the most popular kid. Tell me you still plan on giving the fat kid a hard time. Tell me you won't stand up for the new kid at school because you're afraid of what your friends might think. Tell me bullying makes you cool. Tell me bullying toughens kids up. Tell me it's not a problem.
Parents, tell me your kids didn't need to see it.