Indeed, the specter of cyber-bullying hangs over Bully. Its exclusion is glaring and a major fault of the filmmakers. Here is the Darth Vader of bullying issues, universally identified as a mammoth crisis, remarkably earning a single passing mention. The traumas of childhood are universal, but the filmmakers shoot this film in a way that seems almost too timeless, as if today’s technologies don’t exist. The new frontier of this crisis is constant, unyielding torment through texting, Facebook groups, Instant Messaging – we see none of that here.
We live in an age where one single day of public smearing can have a lasting impact on the rest of a person’s life. I can’t imagine the anxiety of having your peers openly and mercilessly deride you on Facebook. By the same token, the road goes both ways. I would never wish for a child or teacher to be placed with the burden of thinking that their actions contributed to someone’s death. Implicitly, Bully does just this. Playing the blame game will not result in a healthier culture at schools, let alone get to the heart of why bullying occurs. It is malicious and, ironically, feels like its own special form of bullying. How many times do issues regarding our kids have to break into mass hysteria?
President Obama recently said that “no education policy, no matter how well-crafted it is, no matter how well funded it is, can take the place of a parent's love and attention.” I think the same came be said for bullying. We need to step back from finger pointing indictments and high charged rhetoric and realize we can’t legislate or sue or label our way away from what is troubling our kids.