In the hands of the wrong 4th grader, this film is the ultimate ‘for dummies’ guidebook to power and popularity though bullying, manipulation, cruelty, fear, humiliation, and snobbery without empathy, regret, regard for others, or concern for consequences. If your daughter is a Queen Bee, a Sidekick, a Banker, or a Pleaser/Wannabee/Messaenger, be advised- this film could give them the tools to perfect the sophistication of their power strategy (Read Rosalind Wiseman’s “Queen Bees & Wanna Bees” to find out more).
The most powerful, gut wrenching, impressionable moments of this film all revolve around the cruelty of the bullying and the success of the bully and her posse. In her book “Consuming Kids,” child psychology expert Susan Linn touches on the dangers of presenting material for children in which the destructive elements are more powerful than the positive elements. The most powerful messages that children take away from this movie concentrate on the immensity of a bully’s power to control, manipulate, and hurt those who get in her way. Even though the point of the movie is to discourage kids from giving in to bullying- the negative power emphasis means that this film has the potential to convey the message that going along with bullies is better than fighting against them and that being a bully is the best way to achieve popularity.
While this film does portray a disturbingly honest look at the power of school bullies, the conflict resolution at the end is dangerously unrealistic. When Tara finally confides in parents and teachers about the bullying she is experiencing, the bully automatically looses her power over the entire school and Tara and the bully become friends. Bullies don’t just abdicate their thrones because someone tattled. This film reinforced all of the reasons why girls shouldn’t talk to their parents about bullying.