I read a thought-provoking article last night from the ever-interesting but expletive-filled comedy site cracked.com. The article is written by John Cheese and called ‘5 bad ideas for dealing with bullies that you learned from the movies‘. On the basis of his seemingly vast experience of childhood bullies, he explains how inadequate is the advice that TV and movies dispense regarding this problem.
What emerges from the article is primarily that the entertainment industry preaches that fighting back is the solution, and once the bully is humiliated or punched hard enough, he’ll learn that his bullying doesn’t pay and fly right. The reality, as John points out, is that bullies are bullies most frequently because of severe emotional damage caused by abusive homes and the like. Getting the weak, wimpy kid to fight the bully only leads to the bully escalating the violence required to ensure that his ego suffers no further, and having taken beatings from a heated-up adult at home, he’s really not so fussed at being jabbed by a delicate little nerd at school.
In short, Hollywood wants to inspire us to find the strength inside ourselves to vanquish the enemies that stand against us, and as soon as the downtrodden rise up against an oppressor, the shackles are thrown off. In reality, it is dangerous and damaging advice that can only make the problem worse. The social, economic, and moral problems that produce abusive homes and hammer children into bullies are deap-seated, horrific problems without easy solutions. Children who have been beaten and humiliated into monstrous shapes at home and who are taking a swing at some dignity and power at school aren’t going to be beaten into a cure for their damage.
This depressing reminder has been brought to in the interests of pointing out how much we love to tell ourselves that we have the power to conquer the world’s problems with heroic swipes of our metaphorical fists. We’d far rather tell ourselves that the world’s gob-smackingly huge problems can be solved in an afternoon than realise our helplessness (or perhaps start the painful incremental changes needed to turn such juggernauts around).