Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I am glad that the popcultureverse is having a conversation about bullying lately. Kids, whether gay or straight, should not feel their only option is suicide.
I'm sure it's no surprise to those who know me that I was bullied as a kid. Not for being gay (I wish! That'd be an easy one to reflect upon. (Kidding, kidding)), but for being the new kid, the weird/creative kid, the smart kid, the nice kid, the pudgy girl (oh thank you puberty), the kid with bad teeth, the kid with braces, you name it. I was prey, rarely the predator.
As I read the stories about these youth bullied today, and then read the celebrity response, most of which involves celebrities reflecting upon their bullies, I am conflicted.
You see, the cruelest, most awful, most terrible, scarring bully of my childhood? She's now a celebrity.
At the risk of being an amateur gossip blogger, I'll leave this as a "blind item," but I'm sure you can narrow it down that I grew up in Portland in the late '90s and this woman constantly pops up in my universe since her cult basic cable show is apparently something I'd love since I'm a Lostie and appreciate morality tales in fantasy worlds. However, I will never watch an episode of what several of my dear friends refer to as the "best show ever," because of the trauma this girl put me through in junior high.
The thing is, I don't even know if I ever had a class with her (maybe gym), as I was usually sheltered with the other nerds in the advanced groups. She had been held back, I know this because in 9th grade she had her license and used it to park her Jeep Wrangler in front of my house one afternoon to harass me for hours. I did wind up on parks and rec volleyball with her in 8th grade, but I think the bullying started before that. Whatever the connection, for some reason I made the cut of her favorite victims.
She and her entourage made my life a living hell at Cedar Park Intermediate School. Take Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls and multiply it 1000x. One of her big focuses of torment was that her family was rich and mine was poor. Except, uh, we weren't. At all. Thrifty, yes. Poor, no. We're talking the difference between upper-middle class and middle-middle class. WTF. But to 14-year-old girls it apparently doesn't matter. Mean is mean. Bullies are bullies.
In the end, it did get better -- I became really good at volleyball after my coach taught me to pretend the ball with this girl's face. My parents decided to send me to a private high school to get away from the mean kids in my public school. Although there were some freshman year, my high school didn't tolerate bullying behavior. I met my best friends in high school, all of whom had been bullied in middle school. We're still best friends.
So yes, while most of the celebrity messages are in the vein of "I'm awesome now, and those bullies all live in a trailer park or whatever." I have to be honest and say "I'm stuck in middle management in Milwaukee, while my bully found success in Hollywood...," yet there's a glimmer of irony that makes me smile.
You see, having found her success on a cult, science-fiction hit, this woman is destined to spend the rest of her career attending conventions and making appearances for the super nerds, the scary fans, etc. She is dependent on the bullied to keep her in business. Thanks to capitalism, the acne-coated geeks have won.
Side note: in the file of "things I never thought I'd type"-- I must give kudos to Lance Bass who admits to being an asshole bully when he was a closeted teen. Now if more celebs would jump on the "I was a bully" train.