The King of the United States

From a very young age I remember being around documentaries, both my parents watched it constantly. To me, it was white noise, I could never pay attention, it was the most boring thing in the world and yet the best way of falling asleep. Nowadays, I find myself fascinated by them, I understand their purpose and am always intrigued by which subjects will be brought up for discussion.

Like with any movie, documentaries can either be really good or really bad, it’s all in the ability of its creator to tell the story and catch the attention of its audience. In “Bully” we take a ride with Lee Hirsch as he boards school buses and walks the hallways of schools in America. For the first time, the quality of the movie is not what matters, because it’s the message that counts and here it is delivered with brilliance.

Bullying is not just a subject that takes me back to my own school years, but it’s a subject that has become more and more present in our day to day lives, as we see children hurting themselves and others and accessing a level of violence that many grown ups will never in their entire lives live to witness or experience (hopefully). It’s baffling to think we have come to this point, in which our children are now becoming the villains of the story.

Awareness is for me one of the most important tools to solve the world’s problems, and that is why I believe documentary movies are so important, because they show life as it really is, and in “Bully” if you can’t identify with the victim, you will somehow identify with the bullies and see that your attitudes need to be revised. “Bully” is a necessary movie, and it is actually quite surprising that this subject was only made into a movie this late, when this has been such a pressing matter for so long.

It is 2012, we live in times in which trips to the moon are a thing of the past, and texting is practically a dialect, yet we continue to see the same type of discrimination that we used to see 20 or 40 years ago. We have to sit and watch as a fourteen year old african american girl is sent to prison because she got to such a breaking point of desperation that she had to pull a gun on other kids to try and earn some respect. She didn’t mean to hurt anyone, she just wanted to be heard, she was desperately looking for help.

We have to watch one kid after the other being called names, punched, strangled and stabbed. It is by far the most painful and gut wrenching experience I had ever been through in the movies, yet at the same time it was the most inspiring one too. At the end we see it is our responsibility to stand up and fight for change. 

It is 2012, and we still live in a world in which the school system, politicians and the police, sit and watch these things happen from the distance. Hillary Clinton reminded us last year in a very important speech at the United Nations, that we are all created equal and should be treated with respect. At that time she was addressing marriage equality, which in our times brought up bullying amongst grown ups (which quite frankly is even more terrifying). Hillary’s point then was very simple: we need to broaden our perspectives, we need to educate ourselves and be accepting of people for who they are. This is why “Bully” is a necessary movie, this is why this movie should be shown in every school accross the globe, because it is so real, and it causes so much pain and discomfort, that you feel compelled to be a better person.

One of the kids in the movie, an eight year-old who’s best friend was bullied so badly that he took his own life, says “if I was the king of the United States there would be no popularity, everyone would be made equal.”. And there it is, without even having a notion of politics or Human rights he found the key to the solution. Deep down this boy knows that we are in fact all equal, but it’s the popularity contest and the silliness in the world that gets in the way. 

This kid didn’t need a movie to figure out the problem. No one should need a movie to figure that out, but unfortunately these are not our times. As long as there is injustice and these violent acts continue to take place, we should continue to make movies and campaign for what’s right. It’s our responsibility to improve our world as much as we can, so that one day people can look back at these times with relief and curiosity, without understanding how it was ever even imaginable that a child would consider hurting another child.

Author: Gabriel Ruas Santos Rocha

writes for passion, eats for pleasure, travels for wonder.

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