Plot: A documentary following several children that are the victims of bullies.
Review: This documentary starts off with the family of Tyler Long talking about his suicide after being bullied in school. They mention how he was, how it’s affected their family and is a powerful way to open the film. But now let’s talk about Tyler Long. After the film was released it was found out that Long had mental health problems, been performing disturbing actions before his suicide, had been seeing a therapist but neither him nor his family mentioned bullies or suicide, that he missed his last therapy session but that his family covered up for him, that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend and that he may or may not have been bullied in three years. When asked about it, the director stated that it wouldn’t help the narrative of the story. There have been more accusations against the film but we’ll focus on Tyler Long. We’ll also try to go with that the film left these out because of narrative reasons and not because of the parents lawsuit against the school board.
The problem with leaving these out is that the film wants to present itself as an issue documentary that is shining the truth on a serious problem. With a movie like “exit through the gift shop” it isn’t as important whether the film is real or fake because the main goal is entertainment. But with this, it is neither needless or dangerous omissions. Look is bullying a problem? Of course. But showing us that the bullied can also have more underlying problems or that bullying can be the final straw regardless of the intensity of the bullying is all prevalent. By omitting them, it paints a very black and white image of bullying and of teenagers. If the point is to show the effects of bully, leaving out backstory robs us of that. If the point is to show the effects it has on children, not letting us get to know the children makes the scenes pointless. I don’t think that the director thinks we are dumb enough to not understand that even a sad person who has some mental problems may also be bullied to suicide is as important as just being bullied. And if they left out so much on a child that was so lost as to take his life, how are we to believe anything else that we see. The omissions hurt the film more than it could ever help it. So what’s the reason for this and in turn the documentary?
Well after watching it, I feel it is to make a pandering torture porn propaganda film more than a documentary. We meet other children and we hear their story from their point of view and sometimes their family. But we don’t get other kids’ perspective, we don’t authorities’ perspective or anyone with any merit. We also don’t get any answers to how to fix the bullying problem. And that is the problem. Listen again, bullying is a touching subject and I don’t want to make it seem like I think he or the kids made it up the bullying issue but what he’s doing is wrong. He shows us a kid that is friendless but arent’ given reasons why. His sister calls him creepy but again we don’t see that. We don’t see why other kids don’t like him even enough to befriend him. We don’t see how teachers and counselors think of him other than interacting with him. All we have is the opinion of a child in middle school that feels he is hopeless and is having a camera in his face to validate his point. This isn’t about seeing how bullying is a problem or how it affects everyone. This is about parading outcasts in front of cameras with the hope that they are attacked to help the illusion of importance.
At the end of the day, the film bullies us into trying to think what it wants us to without rhyme or reason behind it. It’s a disgusting film that doesn’t start a conversation, it silences a problem.
Trivia: Was the subject of a battle between the production company and the MPAA over the rating.