A good bully will make a story. We can call them the villain or the antagonist but we know what they are: The Bully.
In movies, books and unfortunately real life, they are a part of everything we see and do. They are the reason we pull for the hero. They are the reason we cheer at the end and sometimes, in real life, they force us to make decisions.
A long time ago I saw a movie that displayed the best bully I ever saw. The movie was called My Bodyguard and Matt Dillon played the ultimate bully.
He was controlling and intimidating and smart. He fooled you with kindness and dared you to think. He took away your power and your self-worth. He made you believe you deserved it.
Whoever wrote him deserved an award. He was one of the best bullies I ever saw.
The 8th Grade
While starting work on my newest project I thought back on some of the real life bullies from my childhood. Looking back I realized how lucky I was. I was taught at a young age to put a stop at any momentum that a bully may start.
But not everyone thinks the same.
My memory took me back to the 8th grade where the bully of the class saw to it to pick on those who wouldn’t fight back. It was a different time where teachers looked the other way and expected you to deal with it on your own.
We had a new student in our class that year. He was bright, kind and shy. He was also the perfect target for the class bully.
I remember one morning the shy boy showed up in an angry mood. I never knew what caused it but there were tears in his eyes and a mark on his face. I knew he wanted to be left alone so I gave him space.
Unfortunately the bully didn’t get the memo.
I remember the shy boy warning the bully that today was not a good time. It was as if they were role playing but today the role would not be played.
The bully continued his verbal and physical abuse until the shy boy rose and put an end to it.
When our teacher arrived the bully had two swollen eyes, a bloody nose, a bloody lip and later, I discovered, a broken thumb.
Surprisingly the two became friends later in the year with the bully retiring his role and actually turning into a nice kid.
Not every story ends the same and that’s a shame. Wouldn’t it be nice if a bully could learn a valuable lesson and actually turn into someone good.
How many of us cheered when George McFly knocked out Biff and in that one punch their lives changed.
As a father I taught my girls the same lesson I was taught: Put a stop to the momentum before it gets out of control. I can’t always be there for them but hopefully my lessons will.
When we write we need to create roadblocks for our heroes. We need Biff, we need Matt Dillon and we need the 8th grade bully.
A bully can be rich and complex and so much fun to write. We can dive deep into who they are while bringing out their true identity. Or we can make them shallow and mysterious.
The details are endless.
Whatever they are we need to keep them on the page and off the streets. We live in a good time where no longer the teachers look the other way. Women have a voice that will be heard and hopefully bullying will be a thing of the past.
It is up to us to make things happen.
Until then, be aware of the bullies in your life. They’re out there. If you see one call them out and put a stop to their momentum before it starts.
But most of all, lets keep them in our books and movies and off our streets.
Happy Friday Everyone!!!