I was in a sparse theater this morning as the documentary movie Bully debuted in Columbus.  Fewer than twenty were in attendance at the Drexel Theater, including the team of four from the local ABC affiliate who were audibly disappointed with the turnout, though I’m unsure of their own personal reviews of the film.

Before I go on, know that I’m going to talk about the film and YOU MUST make seeing it a priority.

The film follows the lives of a handful of adolescents from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Mississippi who are victims of bullying by their peers for having the nerve to be “different” from everyone else.  The storyline isn’t new, though I was honestly shocked at the extreme nature of the violence afflicted on these children.  All of these children received violent threats from bullies and nearly all experienced document acts of physical harm that is not for the faint of heart.  I can only say that this movie was horrifying to me on multiple levels.

You must…

If I was a reporter writing up the story of this film, I would rip the public education system for a failure to protect these children.  And that’s the narrative we can realistically expect to see from the media.  And that narrative would be categorically incorrect.  It is true that the majority of the bullying that was filmed took place in public school-related settings, much of it on a school bus.  But if you step back for a minute and put that in its proper context, the school setting is the place where children are in contact with other students who are not in their circle of friends.  So if bullying is going to occur, it’s going to be in the school setting.

You must…

I left a part of myself in the theater in addition to the tears I shed for the children experiencing pain inflicted by their peers and the adults in their lives who have no answers.  While some of the children are still trying to cope with their pain, two of the children, ages 11 and 17, took their own lives, leaving their families agonizing over how to prevent this scene from replaying itself in the lives of others.  Sadly, they don’t have answers either.

You must…

Only one young man has seemingly found the answer to stopping the violence from his days as an undersized victim.  He figured out that by fighting back against his tormentors – using violence against violence – he would be left alone as other “weaker” kids were targeted.  How many times have you heard or doled out such advice Alex, a young man in the film who you will want to rescue from his daily ordeal, heard such advice about sticking up for himself from his father and mother before the documentary filmmakers decided to go against typical protocol and intervene by sharing the video of the abuse on the bus with his parents and school officials.  His mother as beside herself as she never could have even imagined the images of her son being pounded as the bus rolled on.

You must…

And when one young woman exercised her right to defend herself by brandishing her mother’s handgun on the bus to stop the bullying was she rewarded for her forceful implementation of the advice we so readily hand out to our children?  You mean vigilante justice is only something we will applaud in our motion picture heroes?  She was arrested and charged with counts of assault and kidnapping (22 students on the bus) and the administrator shared with the viewing audience how that girl had “no excuse” for her actions and how such a move might only be tolerated if those other kids actually engaged in physically attacking her, but even then it might be too much.

You must…

At the end, we learn that none of the people in the film have answers for us.  Not the school, not the sheriff, not the parents.  In fact, the children in this film are undoubtedly smarter than the adults — educators, parents, or other officials you might encounter in your everyday lives.  Adults like you and me. 

You must see this film…

Because this isn’t a movie about schools or parenting.  This is a movie about our society.  This is a movie about living in a world where we promote violence as a means of power and authority.

Because this is a movie about our present and our future.

Because this is a movie about intolerance of those who are different.

Because this is a movie about hate.

Because this is a movie about us.

All of us.


Go to The Bully Project website to learn more about the children from the film.




  • powerful post

  • gregmild

    powerful movie

  • becca

    I want to see it – plan on doing it soon.

  • drexel

    Following the 7:00 p.m. screening of Bully on Tuesday, April 24, the Drexel Theatre will hold a moderated audience talk-back on bullying in today’s society with courageous students from Columbus-area schools joined by Dr. John Campo, Chair of Psychiatry at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; The Honorable Yvette McGee Brown, Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court and Founder of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Mark Real, Founding President of KidsOhio.org and former Chair, Mayor Michael Coleman’s Education Advisory Committee; Susan Steinman, Child Therapist and Founder, Bexley Operation Respect; and Harley Williams, Principal, Bexley Middle and High Schools.

    Audience members are encouraged to visit the film’s website at thebullyproject.com for a viewing guide and set of rich materials on this national epidemic.

    Tickets are $9.00 for adults, $7.50 for students, and $7.00 for Drexel Members and Seniors, and include admission to the film as well as the post-screening event.

    Tickets are available online at drexel.net, by phone at (614) 231-1050, or in person at the Drexel Theatre Box Office (2254 E. Main St.) in advance or the night of the event.

    Space is limited so get your tickets before they sell out!

  • wonderful discussion.  Thanks for the review

  • tudorman

    “This is a movie about living in a world where we promote violence as a means of power and authority.””

    Not surprising, given that the very essence of the government schools and the federal, state, and local governments is the use of  violence and the threat of violence in order to force compliance and punish those who are different. Think about it. These kids are surrounded by violence, most of it state-sanctioned. If you use recreational drugs, you will be forcibly locked up. Hmmmm. You don’t look right, so before you get on that plane we’re gonna squeeze your nutsack. Don’t want to participate in the government’s health care program? Tough shit, because if you sufficiently resist you will ultimately get a bullet to your head. Your country doesn’t want to play nice with Uncle Sam? Ha! Eat shrapnel punks! Courtesy of Mr. Nobel Peace Prize and his laptop bombardiers.

    The girl who brought the hand gun on the bus? Her crime was that she infringed upon the government’s monopoly to use violence against others, don’t you know?

    Keep all this in mind next time you start agitating to pass some statist claptrap program to force other people to bend to your will. We live in a country based on the idea that some people – those in or who control the government – are permitted to force you to do what they want you to do, and if you resist, well you can just eat lead, fucker. You shouldn’t be surprised when our children act the same way.

  • kellypdillon

    Please contact me about this panel! I am an OSU Communications doctoral student studying this movie and the national conversation centered around bullying. I plan to attend this Q&A and have more questions about how this is being set up, advertised, etc. Kelly Dillon, dillon.148@Osu.edu, 614-551-9379.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!