Bullying III – Pot calling Kettle

I previously suggested the film Bully had deliberately courted a ratings controversy by its choice of language to include. Defenders of the film typically noted that the language was ‘real’ and, in typical anti-censorship fashion, claimed you can’t censor the truth. The director has stated he included swearing to make the bullying more real.

It seems the director also made decisions about what not to include, again to make the film more real. One of the subject children, who according the film committed suicide due to bullying, had also been diagnosed as bi-polar, with ADHD and Aspergers. There is evidence that several other factors significantly contributed to his suicide, detailed in this Slate article. The director’s comment about not including the full mental health background or the other issues?

“I really felt that by not disclosing it, we wouldn’t allow the audience to prejudge,” he said. “It was a decision we thought about a lot. Ultimately, we thought the film would be more powerful without it.”

More powerful, yes, and also possibly harmful, according to the Slate article. I’m not surprised that a documentary excludes material that does not support its claims, but it is a little rich for the director to be defending his language content on the grounds of truth, while he has committed greater sins of omission.

By trc

Freelance writer, freelance editor, web consultant, and film studies scholar.

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