Reflections on the Cyberbullying Documentary

The documentary on cyberbullying was definitely an emotive one. The way the victims were portrayed were done in a way that really reached out to the audience. I think the use of younger children was really effective as well in terms of moving the audience. When these young kids were being interviewed – they were probably 5 or 6 years old – and one of them got upset and started sobbing, it was really upsetting to watch. The interviews done on the parents, too, were really touching. To include the scenes of them crying, to hear of their shock of not knowing earlier, of their regret of not having done something earlier, was an effective way of conveying the problems and emotions surrounding cyberbullying.

I think what was really interesting was when they interviewed, at one point, the alleged ‘bully’ who sent threatening messages to Allen, who committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. In other parts of the documentary, only children and parents were interviewed, along with industry experts like a psychologist and the cyber-security police officer. To have interviewed someone from ‘the other side’ was really confrontational, especially as the interviewer kind of put the bully on the spotlight by asking him if he felt that he was bullying the victim by sending threatening messages. They even portrayed the bully in a sort of ‘negative’ light by putting into context what had happened in the documentary’s narration itself. I say this because they explained what had happened, showed the text messages that were allegedly sent to the victim, and interviewed friends of the victim who confirmed the bullying and even said that they ‘rejected’ the bully’s side of the story. There was no doubt, from my perspective, that the documentary was framing that particular story in a way that told me that the bully’s threatening messages and his attitude towards the victim were definitely what drove the victim to commit suicide.

I didn’t feel like we were encouraged to make our own conclusions. Sure, the documentary didn’t give us a conclusion but I felt that the way things were framed made the audience think that technology is bad for children, that all youths isolate themselves from their parents on the web, and that all children are incapable of finding help at the right time. I didn’t think that the documentary was objective enough for the audience to make a reasonable conclusion on their own because it didn’t put in perspectives from the other point of view, e.g. the bullies’ point of view. I did feel a bit manipulated because the emotions that the audience were compelled to feel from viewing the interviewee’s emotions were meant to make the audience sympathise with the victims.

In  a way the documentary tried to portray a diversity of viewpoints. They interviewed children, parents, friends, experts, and one bully. I didn’t think it was enough, though. I felt that they should’ve interviewed more bullies, to perhaps find out what they were thinking, and why they bully others. They should’ve interviewed teachers or school authorities who were involved to try to give audiences a sense of what was happening and what could be done. They should’ve interviewed higher authorities to look for solutions, and not just to convey the emotions and stories of the victims.

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One Response

  1. […] 23, 2010 by meiem Vivien and Shane both mentioned the fact that the bully was being interviewed in a very confrontational […]

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