Today’s Topic: Dumbo
We saw the documentary Bullylast night. The film has an incredibly important message. My wife and I came out wondering, however, how they captured some of the scenes portrayed. Reenactments? Hidden cameras? It’s never really revealed in the movie. We also wondered how kids have gotten, apparently, so viciously mean and petty (at least, many were in the instances shown here).
Neither one of us remembered any instances of Bully‘s physical violence – the shoving, strangling, hitting, and so on – from our school days. (I went to grade school and high school in Wisconsin; she in Indiana and Illinois.) There was verbal cruelty, sure. But what happened took place most often on the playground, not to my recall inside the schools or on the bus.
When I was in grade school, I was on the fringe of the outsiders. Not very outgoing or talkative. But I did have a circle of friends and was never as isolated as some of the kids portrayed in Bully. At that age, my hair was short and my ears stuck out from my head quite noticeably (something President Obama and I have in common).
So given my ears, some kids in grade school called me Dumbo. That’s the worst thing I can recall happening. When you really think about it (which I didn’t at the time), it was more of a compliment than slur. Dumbo is the 1941 Walt Disney animated film about an elephant with enormous ears. Everyone in the circus teases him unmercifully about this and the circus director makes him a clown because he can’t perform with the other elephants. (In one great sometimes creepy/scary scene reminiscent of Fantasia– Disney made the 64-minute-long Dumbo to recoup losses from this film – Dumbo and his mouse friend Timothy get drunk accidentally and end up seeing the proverbial pink elephants.) In the end, of course, Dumbo learns his big ears allow him to fly and he becomes a huge media star, Timothy becomes his manager, and Dumbo gets his own private circus train (sort of like having a totally tricked-out RV today).
At one point, one of the kids in Bullyadmits to being called “Fish Face” by the other kids. I wish there were a Disney film of that name to help him out the way Dumbo did me after all this time. Better late, as they say, than never.