“It gets better”: that’s the anti-bullying message du jour, thanks to a terrifying onslaught of teen suicides that have plagued North America over the past three years. This worrisome trend gave rise to the “It Gets Better Foundation”, an anti-bullying movement that has since been fuelled by the mega-wattage, combined star power of everyone from Justin Bieber, to Hilary Clinton, to Glee, the superficial musical dramedy that has become the effeminate and perfunctory face of teen gay bullying.
A documentary film has just been released to help aid the anti-bullying movement, aptly titled Bully. Directed by Lee Hirsch, Bully follows the lives of high school students from Iowa, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma from 2009-2010. The film captures truly horrific evidence of high school bullying and sheds a critical lens on the ways school administrations and parents fail to protect their most vulnerable children.
You might think: what a timely and important little piece of cinema. True dat, readers. True dat, indeed. However, there is one aspect of Bully‘s production narrative that works to mar its socially conscious credibility. This little, independent documentary that could now finds itself acquired by the big movie producer that could, one Harvey Weinstein.
For those of you unfamiliar with the movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein is one-half of the Weinstein Brothers, a pair of executive movie honchos who have produced some 240 projects including Shakespeare in Love, Pulp Fiction, The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Finding Neverland, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The King’s Speech, The Artist, and Fahrenheit 911, the latter of which got him canned from his Disney-owned company Miramax, which he originally founded with his brother Bob.
At the Oscars, he’s the obese, balding guy in the front row with rosed face from too much Cristal and ego-inflation, accompanied by a blushing, bedazzled British mannequin. That’s his wifey Georgina Chapman, one-half of design house Marchesa, a.k.a. Oscar couture catnip for Hollywood’s A-list. Her gowns have been worn on the Oscar red carpet by everyone from Anne Hathaway, to Jessica Alba, to Cameron Diaz, to Sandra Bullock on the night she took home Best Actress for Southern Blondes Prefer Black Kids. Talk about a synergistic, match made in marrying-well heaven.
Sure, Harvey sounds like a champion, a 300-pound champion of award shows and rack focus. However, the lumpy Queens kid has garnered himself quite the reputation of being a yep, you guessed it, a big bully. Years of crazy and misguided antics have fuelled this reputation, be it when he threatened director George Hickenlooper with physical harm over the editing work on Factory Girl’s sex scene, when he put a New York Observer reporter in a headlock while throwing him out of a party, when he badgered cancer-stricken director Sydney Pollock on his deathbed over fixing The Reader, or the much hyped screaming matches between himself and Martin Scorsese during production of Gangs of New York. I mean, who fights with Scorsese? He’s like a thickly-browed , giggling and greying teddy bear smelling vaguely of baked ziti.
Harvey’s presence alone is even intimidating enough to overturn NC-17 ratings, cough Blue Valentine cough. Yep. That shit should have never been switched back to R, let me tell you. I no longer believe in love or Ryan Gosling’s ability to age well, thanks to that 2 hour, shaky testament to the rapid expiry of monogamy. But I digress . . .
While even though I find this film to be timely, resonant, effective, and a vital piece of work, I am just so uneasy about Harvey boy’s presence in its credits. How can this film genuinely preach that “it gets better” when for those who have the misfortune of working with this overgrown, rage case, it doesn’t?
Okay, that might be a little heavy-handed. But does Weinstein’s presence within the film’s cultural narrative cheapen the message it works to perpetuate? Or does his superpower, representative of both sides of his character, help to bring new attention and resonance to an important issue that may have recently been forgotten? True, he has a temper. True, he’s any HR department’s worst nightmare. But this man has helped to bring larger audiences to countless independent film projects that might otherwise not see the light of regular distribution. He has impeccable taste, demonstrated with his financial backing of this project. But it just feels hilariously hypocritical.
Just something to consider. Oh and please don’t murder me, Mr. Weinstein. I wish to live to see Harry Potter World.
What do you think? Will Harvey Weinstein’s personal reputation muddy Bully’s message? Will Ryan Gosling age well? Will I get murdered for posting this? Share your thoughts with a comment, whydonchya?