Butler County Times Gazette
by Garon Cockrell
Bully DVD Review
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Feb. 4, 2013 12:01 a.m.

















Bully is a fairly amazing and engaging documentary about

bullying in our schools. The opening scene includes portions of an interview

with the father of a boy who was bullied to the point of committing suicide. We

see footage of Tyler when he was young with his dad. The father says, “I knew he would be victimized at some point

in time
.” The film opens with this completely heartbreaking and candid

interview. Tyler died at age 17. We’re immediately drawn into this film, and

this is all before the opening credits.








We are then introduced to several children who have all

suffered from being bullied. The first is Alex, age 12, in Sioux City, Iowa. He

talks about being called “fish face,”

and admits to being nervous about going to school. “I have trouble with making friends,” he says candidly.  Most

kids don’t want to be around me
.” It’s impossible to remain detached while

watching this.








There is some remarkable footage on the school bus,

remarkable in that the children are being natural, taunting and hurting and

threatening Alex, all while on camera.








Another student, Kelby, age 16, living in Tuttle, Oklahoma,

almost immediately tells us that her bullying included being deliberately hit

by a car. This isn’t the usual taunting that many children deal with. Kelby

talks about how she played basketball, and loved it, but had to stop as the other

kids didn’t want to touch her. She tells us she tried to commit suicide three

times. Her parents talk about how when Kelby came out as being gay, people

they’d known for years wouldn’t talk to them, or even look at them. Perhaps the

most incredible (and disturbing) thing about Kelby’s section of the film is

that even the teachers bullied her.








When we’re introduced to Ja’meya Jackson, age 14, she is

in the Yazoo County Juvenile Justice Center. She was bullied, so she retaliated

by threatening her bullies with a gun. That moment was captured by the bus

surveillance camera, and is included in the film.








The film returns to Tyler’s parents in Murray County,

Georgia.  Tina Long, Tyler’s mom, talks

about finding his body. And there is footage of a town meeting held five weeks

after Tyler’s death. Devon, age 14, speaks up at the meeting about being

bullied, then tells us he finally stood up for himself and now the bullies

leave him alone.








The last part of the film focuses on outreach efforts to

stop bullying.  The film does seem to lose

its forward momentum, but it’s still a really good documentary overall.








Bonus Features








This DVD has a lot of bonus material. There are six deleted

scenes, half of which are with Alex. Interestingly, there is a deleted scene

with Caine Smith, age 11, from Texas – a person we aren’t introduced to in the

film. It’s a pretty amazing scene.








There is also a segment titled The Bully Project At Work, which is about one school getting

involved in the fight to stop bullying. All of the students, teachers, and even

bus drivers at Taylor Middle School go to a screening of the movie, and we get

the students’ reactions to the film afterwards.








There is a bit more with Alex, including a segment titled

Alex After Bully, an interview with

him about why he was in the film, and how he has changed as a result. And Alex Raps, which is a couple of minutes

of him performing at No Bull Teen Video Awards.








One of the best features is Sioux City After Bully, which has interviews with parents and

students, including a gay student. And we see the camera system on the school

buses.  Another interesting bonus

feature is a segment from Good Morning

America
with director Lee Hirsch, David Long, Alex Libby and his mom, Jackie.

 Lee says he was bullied as a child. He

also talks about how the cameras weren’t hidden, but were small. He says the

children quickly forgot they were there, answering my question about getting

that incredible footage on the bus.








And there is a short (two minutes) segment titled Meryl Streep On Bullying, in which she

mentions a personal experience from her childhood.








Bully was

directed by Lee Hirsch. Bully is

scheduled to be released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 12, 2013.










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