5:30 and 8 p.m. Sunday
The 1976 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie” drove home the potentially horrific consequences of pushing a tortured high schooler too far.
In the ensuing years, Hollywood generally depicted bullying by taking a serio-comedic approach – in films like “My Bodyguard” (1980), “The Karate Kid” (1984) and “Mean Girls” (2004) – or the Carrie-like vengeance-seeking found, for example, in the dark comedy “Heathers” (1988).
Right now, though, the film and television industries are not finding much humor in this topic. There are too many news stories about bullied kids opening fire on classmates or killing themselves, and in New Brunswick, the roommate of the late Tyler Clementi is being tried on charges of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy – a case that’s credited with accelerating the passage of New Jersey’s tough anti-bullying law.
Two different documentaries premiering this month take a serious look at the issue – one on Cartoon Network, the other in movie theaters.
The media attention draws praise from New Milford High School’s Dorene Zacher, coordinator of the district’s harassment, intimidation and bullying program.
“We have to reach everybody in different ways, and I think that today, when every parent is trying to rub pennies together to keep the roof over their heads and food in their kids’ stomachs, they can’t always come to the schools to get the education that we offer,” she said. “I think that the media has to play a role.”
“Speak Up,” Cartoon Network’s first original documentary, premieres on Sunday. The half-hour film, which President Obama will introduce, features remarkably candid interviews with kids, mostly between the ages of 8 and 13. It’s part of a wider initiative called “Stop Bullying: Speak Up,” which the network considers to be part of “a growing movement” to end bullying.
“When I talked to Cartoon Network, they wanted to do something more newsy than had been done in the past,” said “Speak Up” director and executive producer Lee Hoffman, a longtime ABC News producer.