The only thing I hate more than a stupid movie is a stupid movie that thinks it’s not, and has convinced itself it’s saying something meaningful and important to the viewers. An ABC made-for-television movie called Cyberbully – or Cyberbu//y if you wanna be clever – is a helpful tool for anyone who wants advice on how not to handle Internet trolls and it’s also good for a great amount of laughs.
Has there ever been a movie that has inspired so many unintentional laughs as Cyberbu//y? That’s difficult to imagine. Not only is it blatant how it was made by people with no comprehension of how the Internet or its trolls work, but when it really shines is when it tries desperately to tug on your heartstrings, succeeding only in increasing the volume of your hysterical laughter.
The protagonist is your typical, too bitchy to be likable teenager Taylor Hillridge (Emily Osment), a girl in high school. For her x-teenth birthday she finally recieves her very own laptop computer and is promptly tempted to try out the new social network – a site called Cliquesters. Facebook didn’t seem to want anything to do with this movie. But things begin to go dark when hateful, insulting and immature comments are posted by the cool girls at school on her profile. Someone also logs in on her account and posts, well, some rather naughty things.
The magnitude of bullying the cool girls use is certainly nothing on an Encyclopedia Dramatica level, nor is it something a simple push of the “Block”-button or a status update reading “sory guys, was faceraped =P” cannot instantly fix, but her resulting reputation at school and distrust from even her best friend Samantha (Kay Panabaker) makes Taylor want to simply kill herself. These girls seem old enough to know how the Internet works, but instead we get scenes where they give each other phone calls when a new comment is posted on Taylor’s profile and scenes that indicate their belief that having an account on a site like Cliquesters is totally harmless and private and that the web is supposed to be – I dunno – a really nice place? Is this film saying that girls know nothing about computers? Kinda sexist, that is.
Hearing these characters speak is fascinating, in that I’ve heard more believable teen dialogue on Hannah Montana. But then again, this is a family movie so I guess not everyone can communicate like the teens in Chronicle. Also, if you’re hoping for any relatively subtle ways in which the film attempts to get its message across, you’ll be dissapointed. They are mercilessly hammering in the “cyberbullies are evil”-message and they do so with sledgehammers and mallets. The lack of subtlety renders Cyberbu//y extra hard to take seriously.
The highlight is when Taylor is threatening to kill herself. The music gets all sad and tear jerk-y as her friends call an ambulance – y’know, just in case – and they rush to her bathroom, where they can hear her grunting and screaming. Samantha flings the door open and it turns out she’s just struggling to remove the cap on her bottle of suicide pills, which she announces to everyone else in her most “done with everything” tone. I promptly exploded with laughter and had to pause. To make things worse, the scene uses “Breathe Me” by Sia, a song so relentlessly overused it is commonly used only as a joke nowadays. Cyberbu//y plays it straight. (I’m gonna write Cyberbully normally from now on, by the way.)
That’s one of the things that made me support the theory that the Jonah Mowry video, the one about him getting bullied and whatnot, was a fraud. Not only did he use an overused song which, again, is only being used currently to make jokes, but he also decided to pick an overused song from an insanely idiotic film about bullying, Cyberbully. Really, the only thing that makes me kind of believe that Mowry may not have lied is that he at least didn’t use “Hide & Seek”, “My Immortal” or, if you wanna be really funny, “Adagio For Strings”. But I’m getting side-tracked.
Cyberbully doesn’t understand the things it needed to understand to succeed. If you’re going to tell teens about cyberbullying and how to best deal with Internet trolls, it is good if you actually know anything about cyberbullying and how to deal with Internet trolls… and anything about teens. However, I trust that most teens are smart enough to understand that what this motion picture says is mostly a load of excrement.
It seems, though, that it’s the tweens and the people around 12 years of age that have somehow been convinced that Cyberbully is a good movie with a great and truthful message about how cyberbullying really works. Trying to criticize the film will make said tweens accuse you of supporting cyberbullying. Hilarious youngsters, indeed, but it does make me a little worried that these kids seem to genuinely like this film and believe in its portrayal of a victim of cyberbullying. Maybe Cyberbully is going to transform them into the same kind of idiotic characters as in the movie, who make enormous deals out of practically every negative troll comment they lay their eyes upon.
If the filmmakers knew this and actually intended for Cyberbully to brainwash and make kids dumber, then I’ll give it 5/5 for its diabolical genius. As far as I’m concerned, though, it’s crap. 1/5.
“Words can hurt” reads the tagline. Yes, so can 90 minutes of a hammy, laughable teen “drama”.