Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
There's only one bully actually identified in the film. A clueless teacher has pulled together two kids who got in a fight and insists they shake hands. One kid is as friendly as an insurance salesman and sticks out his paw with a friendly smile.
The other kid refuses. The teacher sends the friendly kid away and lectures the other one. Of course it's the “nice kid” who is the bully. He probably gets away with more stuff than a con man. His victim knows it. He's been down this path before.
If the teacher were more clued in, she'd know it, too. One of the themes in Lee Hirsch's documentary is how many parents and teachers have no idea what's really happening in the secret society of children in their care. Many bullied children are reluctant to tell anyone what's happening to them. Are they embarrassed or scared? Bullying is designed to make them feel inferior, and in their cases, perhaps it has worked.
The film follows the stories of several children in Mississippi, Oklahoma and Georgia. Two of them committed suicide. Their lives had become unendurable without anyone noticing, or taking their situations seriously enough. I can believe it. The most infuriating people in the film are teachers or administrators who don't know what's happening — or don't want to know, perhaps afraid of bureaucratic difficulties or angry parents. (I imagine, but don't know, that the parents of bullies are likely to flare up in anger at accusations against their children — and then possibly abuse their kid themselves later. Do bullies have nice parents?)