Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Bully' Tells Tale of Cruelty and Youth

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Bully' Tells Tale of Cruelty and Youth

Article excerpt

Alex Libby has become the face of bullying victims, but he's one of the lucky ones.

He has been making the rounds of interviews for "Bully" and lived to tell about the abuse he suffered at the bus stop, on the bus and in school, where classmates called him names, threatened to break his Adam's apple, tried to strangle him, banged his head into a bus seat and used language no 12-year-old should ever hear.

He was alive for filmmaker Lee Hirsch to shadow for "Bully," unlike Tyler Long, 17, seen only through the prism of old home movies when he was a sunny toddler in diapers or mugging for the camera or riding his bike, protective helmet firmly in place.

That was before he was insulted, before he was reduced to tears and then reached the point where he didn't even cry anymore, before he was called worthless and told to hang himself.

That's what the Murray County, Ga., boy did, in his bedroom closet where a little brother found him. Although Slate.com recently has accused Mr. Hirsch of omitting some salient facts about Tyler and simplifying the connection between bullying and suicide, there's no disputing he was picked on, he now lies buried in Georgia and his family is heartbroken.

"Bully" has been in the news due to the MPAA's decision to give the documentary an R rating and the Weinstein Co.'s appeal, loss and subsequent decision to release the movie unrated. On April 5, however, a compromise was struck and the distributor cut a couple of f-words so the movie could get the PG-13 it deserves and needs.

This movie should be seen by tweens, teens, parents, educators and others. It's eye-opening and alarming to hear Alex say the bullies were just "messing around" or to watch the funeral of an 11- year-old Oklahoma boy who shot himself and see one of his playmates serve as a pallbearer.

The director, who had been bullied as a child, chronicled bullying during the 2009-10 school year, and he manages to do something commendable. Rather than taking the easy out -- stats, charts, talking heads, archival footage -- he took a boots-on-the- ground approach. …

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