Tag Archives: Bullying

Rebecca Black

You may have recently heard of an uncanny pop phenom by the name of Rebecca Black. Her parents agreed to sign her up with a “production” agency, who for a measly 2 grand helped her record and promote the song “Friday” about a girl who goes to school awaiting the weekend so she could hang out with her friends.  The 13 year old’s song has gone viral, with about 30 million views in the past week.  I’ve been hearing bits and pieces about Rebecca and her video, and today I finally Youtubed her.

You’d think these 30 million views would skyrocket her to popularity like other teenster celebrities like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus (for better or for worse), but interestingly enough her popularity is of an entirely different sort: notoriety and humiliation. She’s getting droves of hateful comments, mail, and press about her song and her lack of talent. Some even write that they hope she slits her wrists.

But why such startling hatred for a young girl?

Yes, admittedly, the lyrics to the song are atrocious (similar to Bieber’s repetitive “Baby, Baby” lyrics but with “FridayFriday“). But who would claim that it’s better than the words to “Oops, I did it again” or “Party in the USA?”   All of these girls have similar traits (give or take a few zeros in their bank accounts) — they’re highly auto-tuned, promoted by their parents, and eager to become famous singers. The only difference between Rebecca Black and these other starlets is that she’s fully clothed, and singing about something innocent like hanging out with her friends on the weekend, which I believe fits her age (thirteen!) well. She’s not alluding to domestic violence (“Hit me baby one more time”), dressed in a school girl outfit, or licking a lollipop seductively. And for that she’s mocked, bullied, and ridiculed.

What really broke my heart was her face on a recent ABC News interview, where the reporter intentionally reads the cruel messages people have been writing about her, asks her if she thinks she’s a good singer, and then asks her to sing a few lines of the National Anthem to prove it. She rocks the interview by showing a tough front and admitting that while the song might not be the best, it’s catchy and obviously sticks in peoples minds for better or for worse. She’s using the classic “love me or hate me, it’s still an obsession” route, and I commend her for it; I’m just disappointed that this blatant bullying is occurring on such a national scale.

Check out the interview below:

What do YOU think about the negative attention Rebecca Black is getting?

 

It Gets Better

When you hear the word war, does your mind scroll to the Middle East? Do you think of your favorite World War II movie? Well, wake up.

Asher Brown, 13

They’re not the only wars – those are just the ones you hear about, the ones abroad. Realize we’re fighting a war on the homefront – a war not unlike all the others, where fear of Other leads to bullying, premeditated attack, and death. Innocent civilians are killed in the name of hate, in the name of homophobic violence. Tyler Clementi (18), Billy Lucas (15), Asher Brown (13), Seth Walsh (13), and most recently Raymond Chase (19) are among the recent civilians who’ve perished. Think about the ages for a moment; what did they do to deserve the bullying, the name-calling, and the daily torture? These kids, as well as other kids who aren’t on the news – those who are persecuted for their gender, sexuality, appearance, or otherwise, are absolutely no different than your sister, your son, or yourself. Would you want to be treated this way? Your sex life published online by your college roommates, your children going to school only to be beat up and victimized and led to kill themselves because they’re “fags?”

Seth Walsh, 13

So what to do? The time for platitudes is over – we are obviously all involved in allowing this to continue, and we’re all responsible for creating awareness and coming up with solutions – this is a war that won’t be waged with weapons. No, it won’t. It will be waged with WORDS, compassion, and intelligence – concepts that are sorely lacking in our school systems and in American homes. This war on hatred and homophobia will be won by people like you and me who will stand up for people like Tyler and Seth. If you think you’re inconsequential, or your voice is alone, or you have no connection to homophobia because “you’re not gay/hurting/scared/depressed” or “don’t know anyone who is” – you’re wrong.

Tyler Clementi, 18

Start by talking with your siblings, kids, or friends’ kids about their experiences. Really listen, and validate their feelings. Don’t brush them off as “just teens” or going through a phase.  Maybe the teen you know isn’t bullied because of her sexuality, but because of her weight or her mind, or just the very fact that she exists. Maybe your child is crying out to you but you only see the anger, withdrawal, and indifference in his face. Look deeper. Let them know that things will get better – and they need to live to see that day, the day when they have friends and partners that love them for who they are. Give them hope!

Don’t stop there – influencing the minds of vulnerable teens is crucial, but it won’t fix the greater problem: keep an eye out for teens that are externalizing hateful feelings and behaviors. Don’t let it get that far; notify teachers, parents, or friends. They too need guidance and awareness of the importance of human life. If anything, they need some anger management classes, some therapy, or other more serious rehabilitation. Perhaps they too are afraid of their true sexuality, or are battling a problem at home.

Below you’ll find a candid video clip made by Dan Savage that really moved me despite my aggravation and heartbreak at the terrible suicides. Savage and his partner Terry talk about their experiences with bullying and homophobia. Also check out the It Gets Better Project on YouTube for more similar clips! If you’re a teen who needs help, you can find it! There are GLBTQ centers all around the country, you can check out The Trevor Project and Angels and Doves for more info, and reach the US Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.