Right from the beginning I was in tears as a father shared the story of his son who committed suicide at 17 years old as a direct result of abuse from his peers. As the movie went on, however, I became more and more disappointed. Firstly, there was a very obvious lack of diversity. Of the six students portrayed, 5 were white, 4 were boys, and 5 were straight. They had an opportunity to look at the unique types of bullying that girls face such as sexual bullying, which they failed to even mention.
One kid, Kelby, I was happy to see, was gay (although I wasn't too thrilled with her girlfriend's assertion that she used to be straight). Bullying over orientation is the second most common form of bullying in the US. That being said, it should have been covered more and I'd have liked to have seen an lgbt student that was male. What I found really disappointing, however, was that the entire movie, all two and a half hours of it, completely skipped over the number one most common form of bullying in the country. That's right. Weight bullying. Not only was not a single victim fat or even chubby, but weight bullying wasn't even mentioned. In fact, the only time weight was mentioned was when the mother of Ja'Maya tells her that she doesn't want to get too big after commenting that her thighs looked thick like she'd gained some weight. She was also the only black student who was also the only student who retaliated by pulling a gun on a bus full of kids and was sent to juvy. Do I really need to point out why portraying the only person of color this way is a problem?? I'm positive they could have found a white kid who did this or a black kid who didn't. It may be unintentionally racist, but it comes across that way just the same.
The movie seemed to focus on how school administrators and other authority figures were failing our children, but I found it disturbing to see that the parents weren't doing that great of a job either. There were several scenes where parents blamed the children for not standing up for themselves or for not talking to them about it enough- even after the kids point out that they've tried talking about it to no avail.
I was disappointed enough with this movie that I contacted them to complain about the diversity issues and the other issues such as not covering weight bullying, race bullying, ableism bullying, etc. Please see the movie, tell me your thoughts, and contact them as well if you feel the same. Also, please submit your stories to Collateral Damage; Survivors of The War on Fat if you want people to know what those of us who were weight bullied (read: abused) have gone through. (You can submit anonymously by emailing me or by using the fan mail button).