Bullied is a powerful film which deals with discrimination in schools with regard to gay and lesbian students who are made to suffer unduly and considerably due to their sexual orientation. The story of Jamie Nabozny is perhaps a story experienced by thousands of similarly oriented students who are made to suffer daily abuse both verbal and physical. The manner in which Nabozny fought back is quite believable since his case actually made history and remains to this day an important landmark in the gay rights canon.
The film takes the form of a 40 minute documentary where we examine the suffering endured by the main character and the subsequent court case which eventually made history. The documentary is never boring and there is always something going on so it is ideal to show in schools as a tool to attack the phenomenon of bullying according to one’s sexual orientation.
The acting in the film is quite excellent. I greatly enjoyed David Chandler’s portrayal of the main role and he is very adept at bringing out the trials and tribulations suffered by Nabozny who was the target of so much physical and mental abuse. The way the court case unfolds is also very thrilling as it demonstrates the level of ignorance which permeated American society on this subject and the intense bravery of one man who changed all that. Although we are faced with several moral dilemmas and our own prejudices whilst watching the film, one does tend to feel much more emphatic after watching it and this is probably the best part of its message.
One has to accept the fact that sexual orientation is different and this is certainly not a crime. The way Nabozny’s mother deals with the situation is also instructive as she also reveals some elements of intolerance in her psychological makeup. The manner in which the boy and man confronts his demons and goes out to seek justice is also a very powerful part of the film and this is well brought out by the director. The film is pretty stark as regards production imagery, in fact there is no real need to get involved in sensationalist imagery as the subject actually speaks for itself.
Comments on the film have been mostly positive and it has also been endorsed by the National Equality Association who see it as an excellent way to counter violence and bullying in schools according to sexual orientation. The New York State United Teachers has also come out in favour of the film with its Secretary General Lee Cutler describing it as an opportunity for teachers to address bullying in a proper and effective manner.
‘Bullied’ teaches us that violence and abuse definitely do not work and they brutalize the aggressor just as much as the victim. Although only 40 minutes long, the documentary certainly throws new light on how to tackle bullying not through the use of violence but through legal redress which is definitely the most effective way of achieving justice. The landmark federal case is described very effectively and the end results are there for all to see. Highly recommended as a film for both teachers and students alike.
Brummel Bill (2010); Bullied; Retrieved from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1723740/