This is a recent blog that I wanted to reshare as it meant a lot to me to do this one.
Halloween night 2014 was one of the worst nights of my life. I had just come home from taking my niece trick-or-treating. Like I always did, I logged onto the old TGWTG/CA forums and was excited to post about how excited my niece was with all the candy she had gotten.
Then things took a turn that I could have never expected, there was this jerkwad attacking me and my friends. He called himself Evil Baron Battersby and going after people that use(d) Manic Expression and I could see Rat talking him in circles breaking down his inane logic.
Me, I was scared and felt weak when looking at this idiot attacking me saying that no one reads my blogs and that I’m wasting my life writing them. Saying that I could take up piano lessons and become the next great pianist.
The cuts became deeper as this monster decided to attack my character and accuse me of being a pedophile all because I used MLP or Sofia The First characters as my avatar. The worst part of all this is that this bully somehow knew my real name. That scared me and I did not sleep at all that night.
Even though I knew that it wasn’t healthy for my psyche, I went back and saw a flood of insults coming from this person. He remained on the forum for a good three-four days before he was finally banned and by that time, he had set up somewhere close to 16 different accounts.
He may have finally been gone by his words lingered in my mind to the point of me almost giving up blogging completely because I bought into his words and thought he was right. His words lingered so hard that one day when I was in a truly bad mood, I considered ending it all right then and there. I would have let him win but I didn’t he lost because I’m still here.
I bring this all up because this episode focuses on bullying and it is one of the best pieces of media I’ve seen tackling bullying for the simple fact that bully remains faceless throughout the episode and I feel that lessens the impact of the bully while also showing the severity of the impact that a bully can have on their victim.
In many regards, the plot is secondary in this episode to what the characters are going through. Riley, the daughter of Cory and Topanga is being bullied and doesn’t’ want to go to school or have anyone know about it because she doesn’t know how to fix it.
I can relate as when he attacked me on the forums, my mind convinced me that this was somehow my fault and that I was being punished for something I did wrong and that I deserved what was happening to me. I know that’s not true now but try telling that to an emotional young man breaking down not five minutes into a backpacking trip, the day after he considered suicide to be his best option.
Not wanting to go to school reminds me of how I thought if I no longer visited those forums, he’d just go away. Well, that wasn’t true because one day while modding and cleaning out comments on Manic Expression, where he was attacking another member.
Suddenly all his words came back flooding back into my memory and it hurt. A site that means the world to me, a site that gave me a voice was being infested by this person’s presence. It hurt and that was when I finally told someone.
We can look at Riley here and how she breaks down and repeats the words of her bully because they too lingered with her.
You exist and you’re weird, and you get in the way of where I’m looking. So stop being weird and stop being happy. No one should be as happy as you. Stop being who you are. Or I’m gonna put my foot in your weird, stupid face.
This right here is why I hate the sticks and stones saying. There is no truth in saying that words will never hurt anyone. Words can cause the sharpest pain and make people feel weak and small and as though the world hates them for who they are because they don’t fit a certain mold.
An interesting aspect of this episode is how it ties in the dual of Hamilton and Burr and shows that is not the right way to handle a conflict. Granted, my mind went to the musical as I had just watched it recently but the point still stands.
However, this musical does have a word that I thought of a lot while rewatching this episode. Narrative. Hamilton asks the question of who gets to tell the story of our founding fathers and who controls the narrative.
Taking control of the narrative when it comes to bullies means standing up to them. And this is something that Riley does in such a brilliant moment as the camera only focuses on her. This allows her to speak up and let the bully know that she won’t win and the fourth wall is broken down to let the audience in on what was happening and she had the whole support of her school. That may be unrealistic and idealistic but that’s okay.
By standing up to her bully, Riley took control of the narrative and showed that the bully will no longer affect her. The line from her best friend, Maya at the end perfectly speaks to this.
Look Riles, the farther away she goes, the smaller she gets
Watching Riley standing up to her bully and taking control of the narrative was a great and satisfying moment and it makes me wish that I had the courage and wherewithal to stand up against my bully. I think that is why this lingered with me for so long. As I’ll admit that a part of me feels that it was cowardly to not stand up against him and what he put me through. I hate that this happened but I never want to forget that it happened because it serves as a reminder to me of how far I’ve come. When I’m down and feel worthless, I just remember my favorite Winnie The Pooh quote.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
This quote is important to me to show that I do not have to let put people such as that monster ever put me down.
Riley played by Rowan Blanchard
Rowan Blanchard gave one heck of a performance and I felt every moment of her anguish and how she lashed out at her friends such as Maya over the most innocent comments and was scared to get help. This is not the first episode that dealt with bullying as one of Riley’s friends also dealt with a bully and she was able to help him but just because you can help someone that is being bullied, that doesn’t mean you know how to handle it yourself when you are being bullied.
My Final Thoughts
That line from Cap sums it up. I have an intense hatred of bullying and it only became more severe after what I went through. And this episode shows why bullies are so awful because they can make their victims feel small and weak and as though no one cares about them, even when they know the truth. The truth to them has been clouded and they can only see the reality of the bully. I don’t think it needs to be said how awful bullies are. As we hopefully know that by now but this episode does a good job of showing the pain and anguish that bullies can put their victims through.