It’s kind of all the rage to fight bullying these days — Lady Gaga, Glee, Demi Lovato, Ian Somerhalder — all our faves are taking on the mission. So is best-selling YA author Susane Colasanti, with her newest novel, Keep Holding On, about a girl who’s sick of being ostracized for being poor and stands up to her tormentors. Colasanti herself was once a bullied teen, and she, like some of us, remembers that pop culture’s battle against mean guys and girls is nothing new. Back in the day, there was a fair share of books, TV shows and movies that dealt with bullying. Here, she shares her top 5 favorites:
I was obsessed with both the book (by S.E. Hinton) and the movie in junior high. You would not have wanted to watch the movie with me. I was that annoying person who said every line of dialogue along with the characters. I slept with the book under my pillow, wishing for some sort of osmosis to transmit its magic into my brain so I could write a teen novel one day that would help readers the way that book helped me. How the greasers were always taunted by the Socs made my heart hurt. Ponyboy was my favorite character. I loved how he was into sunsets and colors and things. He hated how the Socs felt entitled to harass the greasers, especially since they were all just kids. Ponyboy summed it up best when he asked Cherry if she could see the sunset from the Southside very good. She told him she could. “You can see it from the Northside, too,” Ponyboy said.
The quintessential portrayal of a Pretty Perfect Popular girl clique. The clique includes three girls named Heather (Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker) who rule the school. These Heathers are some seriously cruel beyotches. The fourth girl, Veronica (Winona Ryder), wants the Heathers to chill. When Veronica and boyfriend J.D. (Christian Slater) expose their shallowness and insecurities, the consequences shatter their whole world.
Life Goes On
Along with The Wonder Years, I couldn’t wait for Life Goes On every week (on ABC from 1989-1993). Corky (Chris Burke) was constantly bullied for being different. He had Down syndrome and people were total douches about it. Jesse (Chad Lowe) was ostracized when everyone found out he had AIDS. I was so impressed with how resilient Jesse and Corky were. They motivated me to never give up.
Anne of Green Gables
In the 1908 book by L.M. Montgomery (and the 1985 CBC TV movie) kids threw rocks at Anne when she was walking home from school. They called her “Carrot” because of her red hair. Anne was so bothered that she tried dyeing her hair with some bootleg product she got from a peddler on the road. The dye turned her hair green. But Anne was an eternal optimist. She said that tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it. Anne’s positive outlook always made me feel happy and hopeful.
Freaks and Geeks
Freaks and Geeks is the most realistic portrayal of bullying I’ve ever seen on a show. It was only on for one season, which is beyond tragic. Exec produced by Judd Apatow, it had an amazing cast, including Jason Segel, James Franco and Busy Phillips, who made each episode feel completely authentic. That dodge ball scene and picking teams for gym? Could not have been more accurate. Fun fact: Freaks and Geeks was created by Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, who based the show on his own high school experience. You go, Paul.
[Photos: CBC via AnneofGreenGables.com, Penguin, New World Pictures, Warner Bros., Warner Home Video, CBC, Dreamworks Television]