Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

I don't know how closely everyone has been following this story out of Sydney showing footage of a fat older kid being bullied by a younger boy. For anyone who hasn't seen it the older kid is being picked on and hit, picked on and hit until he retaliates by picking up his bully and dumping him on the ground. I've been fascinated by the story, in part because it's pretty tough to know how to feel about it.

On the one hand, I genuinely don't think that violence is ever the answer but only breeds more violence blah blah blah. If the younger kid had been badly hurt, which he could easily have been, we'd all be talking about the case in a very different way and the older kid's life would be even more fucked. I know kids who were bullied but I also know kids who were the bullies, and they're not evil people who deserved to die - they were just little shits who didn't know any better and were probably being bullied themselves. I'm sure there are plenty of childhood bullies who didn't come good but the people I know did.

On the other hand I can't help being a little bit delighted by the story, like a lot of other people apparently. I could pretty much watch the footage of the bullied kid picking up his tormentor all day because somehow this little incident seems to have become a flashpoint for something much bigger. It's pretty tough to have any sympathy for the younger boy when you hear the older one talk about how he contemplated suicide as a result of all the teasing that he seems to have suffered for most of his school life. Similarly it's tough not to feel admiration for the victim because he so obviously just took it and took it and took it until he... didn't take it anymore.

For some reason it makes me think of the brilliant film, Network, and its protagonist's mantra: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore".

It's a pretty shitty lesson for kids to learn but I'm betting that the older kid's situation at school will improve as a result of this incident, in a way that years of asking for help from his parents and teachers has not.

I would love to see someone revisit this story in five years time to talk to both boys about how it shaped their lives, as I'm sure it will.

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