In fact, after watching the movie and the living hell that was Alex' life in school and in the bus he took to and from school, I must say that it was a relief to see Alex in the flesh. After being so tormented and fragile-looking in the movie, he is now more grown up, stronger and taller than I remembered him from watching the film only two weeks earlier. In fact, Alex seems confident and strong, which considering what he's been through makes for a heck of a development.
As a person who lived what his subjects in the movie are going through, Hirsch is very clear about how the movie changed his perspective. "I learned how easy it is to have people choose to stop it. I learned how quickly, with the right spark, you can impact young people to make a difference. I learned that it's just as violent as I remembered it and that there is just as much indifference out there as I remembered it. I learned that the numbers of people having this experience are in the millions…"
And what are kids experiencing bullying to do? "The onus should not be on them to fix the situation. They need to keep looking for that person who will stand up for them. There's no magic bullet but they need to know that that they don’t have to endure that…that that’s illegal, that you don’t have to take that. I think that is one of the strengths of this movie is that it tells kids you are not alone, there will be people who will stand with you… your experience is valid. Don’t let this get. For a kid that's getting beat up every day, that is torture, nothing else. We want to build a movement that is pretty big, that stands with them and says we are changing this narrative…"
And this he has done. The lessons learned in this process clearly do not stop with the release of the movie. The movie has launched The Bully Project, a website that highlights solutions that both address immediate needs and lead to systemic change. Folks behind www.thebullyproject.com hope this project will catalyze audience awareness to action with a series of tools and programs supported by regional and national partners.
For more information about how you can help stop bullying, please visit www.thebullyproject.com