CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Advocacy Film ‘Bully’ is a Must See, But for Who?
CHICAGO – The age-old problem of bullying has reached epidemic proportions. Or is it simply more openly discussed? It seems that for once a light is being pointed at the dark corners of this punishing coercion, and the perpetrators and enablers involved – the bully, his parents, school administrators – are scurrying from that light. The new film “Bully” is an illumination.
Hardly a complete documentary, the film projects a point-of-view by telling stories around the country about school kids in the middle of a bully situation, and families who have been affected by the actions of bullies. At the same time, these stories also showcase the underlying issues surrounding the bully situations – blind mice school systems, frustrated parents, the crueler outside world and a justice-system-by-way-of-no-justice. The stories are fraught with sadness and suffering, and have a emotional gut kick. The question after watching this is, who will be most affected by it?
There are five main stories told, three involving kids who are bullied, and two involving the families who are victims of child suicides associated with bullying. All elicit sympathy, especially the suicide families. Alex is a 12-year-old trying to fit in, but is tortured by the same fellow bus passengers. Kelby has come out as a lesbian at 16, but the town she lives in is intolerant. Ja’Meya got sick of the taunting, and brandished a loaded gun on a bus.
The suicide victim families have the heaviest burden. They know that are helpless in the face of their losses, but the way they fight back carries the most inspiration. David and Tina Long shake up a community after the loss of their son Tyler, confronting the authority figures that turned their back on the bullying. Kirk and Laura Smalley start an anti-bullying organization after the loss of their 11-year old son, and in the formation of that community find some peace.
Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/The Weinstein Company