The best social documents on film do more than show you what's wrong in the world – they make it personal. Bully does that with a passion. Lee Hirsch's film is a potent and provocative look at a problem that's out of control, what with 13 million American kids a year being bullied, and some of them even taking their own lives. Hirsch goes beyond statistics to focus on a handful of bullied students at public schools in Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Iowa and Mississippi. Alex, 12, is punched and ridiculed without remorse, while school administrators tell his parents that "boys will be boys." Kelby, 16, is an athlete who comes out as gay, only to face being ostracized and run down by a car. Ja'Meya, 14, is so traumatized that she takes a gun onto her school bus to scare off bullies and faces 22 felony charges. The families of two suicides – one boy was 17, the other 11 – try to organize on a national level, pressing students and school officials to pull the issue out of dark corners and take a stand for the silent. As one parent says to a school official who tries to brush the topic away: "You politicianed me." Bully isn't politics. It's a heartfelt cry for help.
From The Archives Issue 1154: April 12, 2012