TV Review: “Cyberbully”

Just watched “Cyberbully” featuring Maisie Williams.  Great film, but very emotionally manipulative.  An anonymous hacker torments a teenager over her online bullying activities.  Maisie does a great job as the bully.  She comes across as a natural teen who thinks that she isn’t doing anything too harmful. Her emotional responses helps pull the viewer in to the story.  Ms Williams’ acting holds the film together.

I think however the story uses an oversized sledge hammer in order to make its point. It seems to hit fairly well-used cliches in the “think about your actions” approach to educating wrong-doers. This becomes very evident when it tells the tale of one of the main character’s victims. While I do accept that cyber bullying can lead to such awful outcomes, I don’t think it proposes an adequate solution to cyber bullying.

In my view, by focusing on a bully, it does very little to show what can be done to help their victims.  It is focusing too much on the bad behaviour.  As parents we are told that if our child does something wrong to another person, we should pay more attention to the victim rather than the wrong-doer. If the wrong-doer gets attention for their action, then they will repeat their action to maintain the attention.  This film focuses on the wrong-doer, fortunately without glamourising bullying.  But the actual emotional journey experienced by the victim is distanced from the viewer so the impact of bullying is muted. And while we are watching the main character go through her experience, asense of “serves her right” waters down any sympathy we might have for her.

It won’t stop me from showing it to my kids.  Cyber Bullying is an awful example of human behaviour.  We need to find a way to not only deal with the bullies, but also a way to help victims.

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