7 Blog

Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Bully boys were once a natural problem

Between my fourth- and 10th-grade years, I attended eight different schools in five different states. Ah, the joys of a Navy-brat childhood.

Wait. Did I say "joys"? This was during the late '50s, early '60s, and the "joys" of moving around so much would come to me only in retrospect. In fact, always being the new kid led to a lot of loneliness — and to the kind of bullying as the natural course of life that today tends to attract headlines.

A student draws a picture of a gun today and he or she is likely to get expelled. When I attended school, every guy I know carried a pocket knife. Most of us used them to play mumblety-peg. But some guys, the harder ones, used them on each other — or to make it easier to force the weaker ones among us to give up our lunch money. I went hungry more than once.

Rather than continue with this depressing narrative, I'll get to the point: One of the scenes in the Oscar-winning film "In a Better World" (see the trailer above), which is now playing at AMC's River Park Square Theatres, involves a knife. And it involves the kind of bullying, and the aftermath, that my classmates and I had to deal with on a daily basis (certainly that was the case in 9th grade when I was one of the few haole kids attending school in Ewa, Hawaii).

So while I like "In a Better World," which was directed by the Danish director Susanne Bier, it brought back a number of unpleasant memories. This is one film I'm not likely to forget anytime soon.