If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Bullying is a big problem in the United States, and director Lee Hirsch is not only a victim of it himself, but he wants to solve it. This film follows the lives of a number of bullied teens as they struggle to live normal lives in the public school system, where they are too afraid to tell anybody about their problems and nobody does anything about it when they do.
Let me start off by pointing out that I do believe this is an important issue. I dealt with a bit of bullying myself when I was in junior high. My sister dealt with it as well. Luckily I was able to stay below the radar enough to avoid anything too bad. The stories in this film are harsh, sad and above all else, real. But my problem with the film is that it doesn't say anything about it. We see these stories, and we see people saying that something needs to be done about it, but the movie never gets the root of the problem and suggest any sort of solution. Near the end there is a very brief moment that vaguely tells children to befriend kids that are being bullied and stand up for them, but that doesn't solve most of the problems at hand.
The movie spends a little bit of time pointing out the fact that the parents of bullies just don't seem to care. It spends an almost unfair amount of time demonizing the school system. It doesn't spend any time talking about the politics both keeping the schools from doing anything about the problem and even encouraging the problem. It never once mentions the media and how since the 1980s movies and television have glorified bullying. And the worst is that it just doesn't pose any sort of solution. It never scolds parents for not doing anything about it. I feel sorry for the parents in the film, but I also feel as if they could have been much better parents and talked to their kids more. They point out that they know their kids are targets, yet they don't seem to do anything about it.
It's a risky subject, ripping this documentary apart, because I do sympathize with the filmmakers, the parents and the victims. But if they wanted to make a movie that would actually make a difference, they should have focused on more than just a list of sob stories and one really terrible school principal.