Once, in middle school, I wrote one of my close friends a letter. We were in a gigantic fight, and it was a horrible letter. Lots of name-calling. Lots of mean things about how she acts, how she looks. Just terrible. I was in eighth grade, but I should’ve known better.
My mom found this letter in my room, and needless to say, I got in a lot of trouble. How could I have said these to my friend — to anyone?! It was horrible. I should have never written this note. And that was just one note to one person. Can you imagine if my entire school would have seen it? Welcome to today’s cyberbullying.
But in last night’s movie, Cyberbully, the plot became just a little too contrived to be believable. Ok, I get why her brother might’ve started it unintentionally. It shows the audience that you’ve really got to be careful what you’re putting on there, even if it’s a joke. But once you add in the fake profile from the friend, the fact that the friend sabotaged her on there when she was ticked off, and then everything followed suit, that just felt like a little much.
Why not just show a clique of girls bullying the girl online? All of this stuff still could have happened. They could’ve continued to call her anything from dogface to a dirty skank to a preggo whore with the clap. Believe it or not, you don’t need backstabbing friends (please pardon my example above) to start a cyberbully attack.
Because of this “fake profile” angle, the story just got fogged up. Yes, there was a good half hour in there where we really focused on the issues. Poor Taylor was beat down so much she tried to kill herself (though there was a whole ‘nother level of pathetic in there when we found out that her attempt was stopped largely because she couldn’t get the top of the pill bottle off). She was sent to the hospital, sent to counseling, sent to group sessions — all the things that any person who tried to kill themselves would need to go through. Through the group sessions, we saw what kids were really feeling and how to stop the attacks, or at least, how to deal with them. We were able to see the frustration of Taylor’s mother as she tried to stop the attacked from a procedural end, through talking to parents, principals, cops, and legislature. Finally, the media came into the picture.
And this is where I got annoyed again. The story somehow shifted from a kid who almost tried to kill herself because of cyberbullying (that somehow feels like a big story to me) to Samantha’s fake profile. How is that the real story here? Sure, we got to hear her side of things: that the things that made her do it didn’t really matter in the end, nor did they really make sense. But that just really took the message off the reality of cyberbullying as many kids experience it, from what I’ve heard anyway.
Then the end. I realize that for a movie like this to work, you need a happy ending, but did this seem a little too fluffy for the rest of you? Both Taylor and Samantha have a large number of issues to work through — not only in their friendship, but in their mental state. They’ve both taken a beating, and they still need to heal. Plus, one showdown with the big bad bully won’t make her stop, and they all need to make sure they can push forward.
Yes, this is a topic that needed to be really shown and exposed to both kids and their parents. There are a lot of kids out there that don’t realize that words can do more than cause a laugh — and there are a lot of parents who might not realize how bad it really is. I do especially appreciate that there was a minor character bullied for being gay. I can’t imagine how someone in that situation really felt, and I’m sure that’s something many kids are facing, too.
[Read more after the break!]
But why couldn’t we see a movie that was more after-school special? More direct and obvious? I know, I can’t believe I’m asking that either, but somehow, they focused on having too much plot. Why all the twists and turns with Samantha? Why have the issues with Taylor’s father? Why did her brother need to be involved at all?
In a movie that prided itself on being an accessible PSA, I just wanted that straightforward believability factor. Nonetheless, I think it proved its point, and it was great seeing Emily Osment on screen. If anything, we should all be impressed at how quickly she can break down into tears. This movie had to have taken a lot out of her.
It’s certainly one I’d recommend to others, if only for the overall message. I just wish it would have been a little more real. Because right now, I bet there’s a good handful (at least) of people calling someone a loser on Facebook right now.