Review 78: Cyberbu//y (.5/5)

Cyberbu//y

Directed by Charles Binamé

Starring Emily Osment, Kay Panabaker, Kelly Rowan, Jon McLaren, Meaghan Rath, Natassia Markiewicz

Released on July 17, 2011

Running time: 1h 27m

Rated TV-14 (LVS) (Suggested rating: PG for thematic elements, some sexual references, and some language – all involving teens)

Genre: Drama, Teen

Have you ever had a friend that personally showed you a movie because they had had such an emotional reaction that it made them cry, but when you watched it, it was so ungodly bad that you either laughed your ass off or got so angry that you had to pause the movie and cool down? Yeah, we’re not friends anymore.

Before you show up at my house with torches and pitchforks and demand that I recant this review or suffer a long, painful death, let me at least tell you this:

I am fully and completely aware that cyberbullying happens in real life. I fully and completely realize that it is a particularly serious issue in society. I fully and completely realize that people take their own lives every year because they have been cyberbullied, and I am sad that this happens.

But actual victims of cyberbullying deserve better representation than this bilge.

This movie’s depiction of cyberbullying is nowhere near as bad as it actually gets. In fact, this movie’s overall message has an entirely wrong perspective on cyberbullying. The creators of this movie, rather than call a spade a spade, rather than address exactly where the problem lies, claim that it’s the Internet’s fault for the existence of cyberbullying and that we must heavily regulate the Internet. However, it’s really the fault of some people just being crapheads.

Actual websites regulate themselves. For example, you can report people on Facebook for bullying and even delete individual comments on your own posts. Youtube has anti-hate-speech-and-bullying policies. Unfortunately, these sites’ anti-bullying methods have been abused as of late, with Facebook censoring politically conservative speech and Twitter hiring radical feminazi Anita Sarkeesian to police free speech. Don’t even get me started with the bullcrap happening on YouTube. But still, each website has the right to regulate itself, and each site can censor what it wants, so long as it’s not stepping on someone’s right to free speech. Hell, you could write a long-ass article on the crap I say. And I’m fine with that so long as it’s not defamatory. But when the right to free speech is sacrificed for the right to feel comfortable and mollycoddled, that’s when a line is crossed. It’s free freaking speech. Yes, words can hurt, but only if you let them. Call me insensitive if you wish.

Where was I? Oh, yeah; this movie is terrible. (drnk bleech u f*cin fagaht)

Our story begins in the household of a typical rich upper-middle-class white family in Montreal. At least, that’s where the movie was shot. As a terrible pop song plays, we meet our main character, Taylor (Osment), who is a typical blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white-skinned, admittedly pretty, Internet addicted teenager. Apart from being addicted to the Internet, being a seriously bubbly airhead, and, as we’ll learn later, unrealistically emotionally fragile, Taylor is a blank slate (no shes not u f*kig fagot). Whether or not Taylor being a blank slate is intentional or not is hard to determine, as this could possibly have been intentional in a failed attempt to make her relatable by making anyone feel like they could step into her shoes at any given moment. Taylor is briefly chatting on social media with her best friend Samantha (Panabaker) before she goes to school. She jokingly calls Sam a brat. Taylor’s mother (Rowan) notices this over Taylor’s shoulder. She asks who Taylor’s calling a brat, Taylor says that it’s private, and Taylor’s mother says that what you put online isn’t private. Subtle. Thanks to her mom telling us, it’s apparently Taylor’s seventeenth birthday today. In response, Taylor, instead of thanking her mom or telling her that she loves her, tells her mom to not forget to get her a present. We also meet Taylor’s bland actor of a younger brother.

Samantha arrives with Taylor’s friend Cheyenne (Rath) to pick Taylor up. And it’s in this drive to school that we not only reaffirm that it’s Taylor’s birthday, but learn that Taylor’s dad left three months ago, there’s this new awkwardly named social network site called Clicksters (I’m not kidding), this popular chick named Lindsay who’s always surrounded by her group of friends has some inexplicable bone to pick with Taylor and her friends because she constantly heckles them whenever she sees them, and Taylor has a crush on this jock named Scott (McLaren).

SAMANTHA: Scott’s just a dumb jock.

TAYLOR: No, he’s not.

ME: Yes, he is.

Do you have any idea how distracting it is to make a fake site for your movie, screenwriters (no is not u f*cing fagit)? I can’t imagine why Facebook or Twitter or Instagram wouldn’t want their names to be tarnished by this garbage. Mark Zuckerberg probably got an offer to have Facebook featured in this movie, but he probably read the script, thought, “Eff that noise,” and got himself out of the situation as quickly as he could. But as we’ll learn later, Facebook’s anti-bullying methods would not have allowed the story to progress. I’ll elaborate on that as the plot unfolds.

It’s not exactly easy for any plot to unfold when we have such ridiculously flat characters. I may as well call Taylor, Sam, and Cheyenne Blondie, Brunette, and Black respectively. These three chicks are so airheaded and overprivileged. Their social stance clearly shows in their dialogue, if you can call their exchanges dialogue. And they are so lifeless that they are not only astoundingly difficult to take seriously, but any sense of relatability is completely absent.

After a brief sequence in gym class in which we’re reminded that Taylor’s dad left, we cut to Taylor at home, opening a present from her mother. It’s a laptop! Gee. I wonder what could go wrong. Aww. I want an Xbox laptop. Dammit. All I have is a cheapass Toshiba laptop that’s a bit flimsy and is already starting to feel like it’s about to fall apart, even though I’ve owned it for just under six months. (Update: I had a serious hard drive failure and almost lost everything.)

After another terrible pop song, Taylor has Sam and Cheyenne over at her house, and they’re helping her create her Clicksters account. And of course the account-making process has to be shifty. When creating her profile, she has to answer a series of questions. The three of them lie, based on how much guy attention Taylor will get. I’ll answer each of the questions myself in parentheses. Some of the questions are rather innocent, such as what animal you would be (panther), the songs that would be on your playlist if you were stuck on a desert island (too many to list here, but it would include Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring), what day of the week is your favorite (Saturday), and sweet or salty (depends on what I have a craving for at the moment). Some get a little more personal, such as the first thing you notice about people (faces), if you’re a morning or night person (late morning to early afternoon), and if you untie your shoes before you take them off (no). But then there are the too-personal questions, such as what frightens you the most (nihilism), your favorite body part (voice), and what color of underwear you’re wearing right now (none). Oddly, the only two questions that have been answered are the only two that have been spoken onscreen, being Taylor’s favorite body part (eyes) and what color of underwear Taylor’s wearing right now (blue). I’m not kidding – the first three questions (first thing Taylor notices about people, morning or night person, and untying shoes before Taylor takes them off) have not been answered. About thirty seconds into the scene, Scott sends Taylor a friend request; Taylor quickly accepts.

After a very vapid look at Sam’s vapid home life, we see her pull out her Xbox laptop, go on Clicksters, and read Taylor’s poem about hiking at some mountain. To be honest, Taylor’s not a bad poet. She’s certainly better than I would be. In my freshman year of high school, we were reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. To get more of an insight into Shakespeare, we were asked to write a sonnet. Rather than write a poem about my love for someone, I decided to tell a tragic love story, the details of which I will not go into, because it was a crappy sonnet. We were going to have to read these sonnets in front of the class, and I was not looking forward to it. Fortunately, I was sick the next day, so I didn’t have to. I turned it in a day later, and I surprisingly got a good grade on it. Anyway, Sam then comes to a picture of Taylor and Sam that Taylor posted. It has been commented on by Lindsay, addressing the two with two very childlike insults that make elementary school students look mature: “Lardo and Dogface”. Sam calls Taylor about it, and they laugh it off and move on. You know, like normal people.

The next day, Scott talks to Taylor about her being on Clicksters, saying that it’s better than Facebook. Can this movie show why Clicksters is oh so much better than Facebook? We barely see what it’s like on Clicksters at all. Scott also asks Taylor to chat with him through Clicksters tonight. Uh, Scott? Instead of asking Taylor to instant message you on Clicksters tonight, how about you take her out to dinner? It won’t be a legitimate date; it’ll just be the two of you hanging out. It’ll be significantly better and more wholesome, and you two will grow even closer than you would through online chatting.

That night, when Taylor’s chatting with Scott on Clicksters, her brother gets into her room, notices that she’s on Clicksters, asks her to make him an account, then reaches down and scratches his crotch. Taylor shoos him out of her room, calling him a little worm. Remember, this is the chick that we’re supposed to sympathize with.

And so, the Internet starts consuming her life. On Friday, Scott hits on her, joking that she should post a bikini shot on Clicksters. After school, instead of going to the mall with her friends, Taylor instead goes home to talk to Scott online, all while accompanied by a terrible pop song. This happens much to the annoyance of Sam and Cheyenne, who insist that talking to a guy for two days online is not love. I agree. The only way that could happen would be when under the influence of some really hard liquor.

Taylor talks to Scott online the next day too, but she gets a friend request from some guy named James Petitious. She doesn’t know him, but he likes her poetry. So, like an idiot, she accepts his friend request. Gee. I wonder if this is going to backfire.

But later that day, Taylor receives a text telling her to check her Clicksters page because of something bad. She goes on Clicksters and discovers that somebody has posted a defamatory message on her page…in her name. “I’m a naughty bad girl, someone should spank me”, the message says. I’d like to spank her, but not in that way. For her actions throughout the movie, I would take her over my knee and spank her as if I was disciplining a troublesome child. Again, not sexual in any way. Though, to be honest, Emily Osment is kind of hot. Taylor is obviously shocked at the post, but she’s also shocked at the comments she’s received. Taylor’s mom comes into Taylor’s room. Taylor gets up, points to her computer, and tells her mom that someone’s “hacked” her profile. Please stop calling it hacking. Somebody guessing your password is not hacking. Taylor bursts into tears and goes into the bathroom to let it all out. Waaaaah. I’m surprised she’s having such an extreme reaction to such a small incident. Wait, didn’t she want male attention?

To put such an incident into context, allow me to present an example from my own life. I created my Facebook account in the beginning of the second semester of my sophomore year of high school. A few months after I joined, somebody got onto my account without my knowledge. They posted porn on my page under my name. I didn’t know about it until the afternoon the next day. I was obviously shocked, but I didn’t get overly emotional about it. Well, I did get a little emotional, but do you know what I did? I deleted the porn. I let everyone know that it wasn’t me that had posted it. I changed my password, and I let the whole issue die away. It’s not that horrific of a situation, and it is easily remedied. You should do the same, Taylor. There is such thing as deleting the mean comments (they all have obvious Xs next to them), or deleting the defamatory message and the mean comments along with it.

Except she doesn’t. When Taylor’s mom goes through Clicksters herself, decides that it’s completely inappropriate for someone Taylor’s age, cites the lack of boundaries, and asks Taylor to delete her account, Taylor refuses. Her mom points out that Taylor’s in tears. Waaaaaaah. I stood up from my couch and spoke to the TV screen, “Listen to your mother! You’re clearly not emotionally capable of handling the Internet, let alone an account on any social media site!” When her mom leaves her room, Taylor, apparently not noticing that all the comments have little Xs next to them, and not even considering deleting the defamatory post, leaves a comment calling Lindsay “nasty” and a “b!tch” (thats a totly liget rispons u f*kng fagat). That’s not adding fuel to the fire at all. 

So how does this site work, exactly? Do you have to send people friend requests and accept friend requests from other people? Or does it just automatically connect you with everyone in your general area? I’m pretty sure Taylor would not have friend requested or accepted a friend request from someone like Lindsay or any other dispensor of spiteful comments.

It’s about now that the movie’s hamfisted message starts to show its hypocrisy by refusing to take into account that highschoolers are crapheads (its not himfwsted u litel sh*t). I should know, I used to be one, and as of June of 2015, I can safely let out a sigh of relief that I no longer am one.

Taylor calls Sam and tells her about the incident. She learns that James has stood up for her, and so she privately messages James to thank him. Sam tells Taylor that the issue will blow over by the time the weekend is over.

Taylor returns home that day to find her brother and her mom at the kitchen table, with her brother’s head down. Taylor asks what’s going on, and her brother fesses up to “hacking” her account and posting the defamatory message (stop calling it hacking {it is hakig u fagut}). Yes, because most cyberbullies totally know the victim personally (mos of tehm do u c*ksukig fegit). Taylor is obviously pissed at her brother. Taylor’s mother tells Taylor’s brother to go to his room, but tells Taylor to stay there. After saying that she’s annoyed that Taylor didn’t delete her Clicksters account, she calls Taylor out for calling Lindsay a b!tch. Taylor thinks her mom is spying on her, but her mom quickly says that anything that Taylor posts online is no longer private, and confiscates her laptop for three days. Taylor responds with something along the lines of “Whatever”, and tells her mother to stop “spying” on her. I’m amazed that Taylor doesn’t know or understand that what she posts online isn’t private. She’s a privileged, self-important, debilitatingly stupid millennial growing up in the 2010s. Come on.

Allow me to bring up another example from my life. To monitor what I do on Facebook, I intentionally friended my dad, my maternal and paternal grandparents, several of my uncles and aunts, a few of my cousins, and even my own great-grandma, who passed away this past week; God rest her soul.

Strangely, the weekend’s incident hasn’t blown over, because when Monday comes, Lindsay asks Taylor how many guys she hooked up with this weekend. Ten? Twenty? Yes. Because the most popular chick in school would totally be a virgin.

In history class, the gay guy who sits in front of Taylor expresses his sympathy for what happened to her. Taylor tells him that he’s likely never been called a “slut”, “whore”, “skank”, or “b!tch”. Because those are totally the worst insults a chick can receive. In response, the gay guy (I forget his name, being gay is his only character trait) tells her that he’s been called such mild insults as “fairy”, “fruit”, “homo”, and “too gay to lift”, and that she has no idea how bad stuff like this can get. Taylor responds by telling him that he actually is gay, but what they’re saying about her isn’t true. Remember: this is the chick we’re supposed to sympathize with. But seriously, Taylor has absolutely no idea how bad cyberbullying can become. Blackmail doesn’t even scratch the surface. Also, does the word “faggot” not exist in this film’s universe?

Taylor goes home and gets her laptop back. When Taylor tries to put words in her mom’s mouth and say that her mom just wants her to delete her Clicksters account, her mom replies saying that she trusts Taylor to do the right thing.

The next day at lunch, Scott talks to Taylor about how her brother “hacked” her Clicksters account (stop calling it hacking {it s haxng u fgot}), and asks her out to some dance that’s coming up. Taylor gladly accepts, and Scott asks her to give him her number via Clicksters. Come on. Three onscreen days of online chatting does not a boyfriend make. By the way, don’t get used to this plot thread. It is completely forgotten within minutes. In fact, Taylor doesn’t even give Scott her number.

I forgot to mention something about Samantha: her last boyfriend screwed her on their second date and then dumped her, so relationships leave a bit of a bad taste in her mouth. This is why she warns Taylor about Scott, who is popular and a bit of a womanizer. But Taylor then drops this little bombshell:

TAYLOR: Just `cause you got dumped doesn’t mean I will.

Ouch. Remember: this is the chick we’re supposed to sympathize with.

That evening, an excited Taylor tells her mom that Scott asked her to the dance after another painfully forced reminder that her dad left. Taylor goes on Clicksters, and she is shocked to see that James wrote a post saying that Taylor had sex with him and that he now has the clap (gonorrhea). Not only that, but there are a ton of spiteful comments. Taylor gets particularly emotional. Waaaaaah. She refuses to tell her mother what’s happening, and gets Sam and Cheyenne over to her place. Tell your mother, Taylor! Block the crapheads or make your wall private! Jeez! (shutup u fagt)

Her time at school the next day isn’t a pretty sight, either. When Lindsay addresses Taylor, Sam, and Cheyenne as “the skank patrol”, Cheyenne can’t take it, claiming that she’s “never been called a name at school ever”, and she breaks off her friendship with Taylor and Sam.

I’m surprised that these high school students are barely vulgar at all. That is completely unrealistic, as most highschoolers I knew were particularly foulmouthed.

After Cheyenne ditches Taylor and Sam, Taylor ditches the rest of class to go and sulk.

After school, Taylor goes over to Cheyenne’s house and tries to get Cheyenne to explain herself. When Cheyenne says that Taylor’s Clicksters issues are partly her own fault by her having called Lindsay a b!tch, Taylor runs home in tears. Waaaaaah.

Taylor quickly walks past her mom when she gets home. Her mom starts to get up to ask Taylor what’s wrong, but she gets a phone call. It’s from Cheyenne’s dad, and he tells Taylor’s mom what’s been going on. Taylor’s mom bursts into Taylor’s room and demands that she shows her her Clicksters page. Taylor bursts into tears, intentionally showing faux innocence while admitting her situation. Waaaaah.

TAYLOR: Oh look, Mom, a new comment! I’m so popular! Oh, this one’s from “Lindsayluv”; she’s my favorite. Yeah, she says that James told her I’d take all my clothes off for five bucks.

This could have been a great moment, but Taylor as a character is so unrelatable that we cannot form any emotional connection with her. Had I been able to do so, this scene could have been much, much better. (tis is a rly sad sene u fegut)

Transition to a view of another laptop screen. The user is accessing James Petitious’s profile. The camera pans over to the user’s face to reveal – dun dun da-daaaaa – Samantha? Uh, what? She’s pretending to be James and is posting defamatory posts about Taylor? Why? What reason does she have to do that? There’s literally no reason for her to do that, let alone events that would motivate her to do that (yes thr is u dum figat). This is an idiotic, presumptuous plot thread that only ever serves to oversimplify what cyberbullying actually is. (no is not u fckg fgat)

Later that afternoon, Taylor calls her dad. He doesn’t pick up, and Taylor tearfully tells him that she needs him to be there for her in her hour of need. Waaaaah.

Look. I know that I’m supposed to be feeling really sorry for her at this point, because she’s not in a very stable emotional state. But not only have we barely gotten to know Taylor as a character, not only are we unable to identify with her, but her unrealistically out-of-whack mind is trying to make a mountain out of molehill with this situation! Had Taylor as a character even been the slightest bit realistic and relatable, I could have let all of her other issues slide! There is so little effort that has been put in to make Taylor even a developed character that she ceases to become human and therefore relatable. (taylr s jus lik a rl tenger she is rletebl u fagoht)

The next day, Taylor stays home from school to cope with the situation. Again, unrealistic, and therefore unrelatable. Taylor’s mom goes to the school to complain to the principal, but the principal says that he can’t do a dang thing for a legitimate and realistic reason: a school’s ability to discipline its students has no jurisdiction outside of school, unless they were using school computers to do the actual bullying. At least, that’s the reason he should have cited. The reason that the principal actually cites is this: the school cannot do a dang thing because the Internet’s not censored, and the school cannot know which students to discipline because they are anonymous users of a social network (even though you can tell by their username and profile picture which students they are) {thas a perftly liget reson u fgot}. Taylor’s mom, whatever your name is? This is not the proper route. Disciplining students for their actions on social media is not in a school’s jurisdiction, unless they were using school computers to do the actual bullying. If you want to make sure that these students are fairly disciplined, then you need to go to their parents and tell them to discipline their children. And if you truly believe that your daughter’s life is in danger, then you should go to the police.

The next day, Taylor is initially hesitant to go to school, as the general Clicksters consensus is that when Taylor “had sex with James and given him gonorrhea, she got pregnant”, which is why she had to stay home from school. Taylor goes anyway. Sam sees that Taylor’s not exactly okay, and offers to ditch school with her. Taylor declines, saying that she wants to talk to Scott. Sam is inexplicably taken aback by this, and breaks off her friendship with Taylor. I get that the movie was trying to add to Taylor’s situation by having her friends leave her, but how they do this is amazingly forced, contrived, and idiotic.

Taylor talks to Scott before class starts, asking him if they’re still going to the dance tonight. Wait, what? Taylor hasn’t been in contact with Scott in the days leading up to the dance, making sure everything’s perfect beforehand? Come on. Back when I was in high school, I asked an old flame of mine (you know who you are) to a particular dance. This one was essentially a Mormon version of prom. Do you know what I did in the days before it happened? I worked out all of the kinks with my date and made all the necessary preparations. I had a good time, but thinking about it now just brings back bad memories, mostly out of guilt that she and I didn’t work out (I’m so sorry). But seriously, it’s distractingly stupid that Cyberbully tried to sell us this bull. (is not bull u fagett)

But that’s not the only thing wrong with this scene. Scott tells Taylor that his mom insisted that he go with the daughter of his mom’s friend, and says that he had no choice. Wait, what? Scott is at least seventeen, but he’s still letting his mother decide who he takes to a school dance? What the hell? And he apparently had no choice in the matter? Scott, you ignorant jackass, there is such thing as saying no and citing a prior commitment! Why is Cyberbully trying to pass this scene off as realistic? It’s not realistic! (ya it s u feget)

Taylor is distraught and she runs out of the classroom. Waaaaaaah. I yelled at Scott to get up, follow her, talk to her, and comfort her in her time of need, but he did no such thing.

We then get a really tacky shot of Taylor walking down the hall that I know is supposed to represent Taylor’s emotional degradation. The camera is on the ground, focusing on Taylor while steadily tilting upward. Taylor leaves the frame and the camera tilts upward until it’s upside-down, showing Taylor walking away, having clearly just walked around the camera. (is a amazig shot u fagt)

Taylor walks into the bathroom to sulk, but Lindsay and her clique are there already, apparently cutting class. They notice that she’s crying, and they drop a few comments about a particular video that they claim is “hilarious”.

Taylor ditches the rest of class and goes home. She goes on Clicksters to see a video called “Taylor Hillridge Works Her Corner!!!” The video shows Taylor, depicted as a sluttily dressed, pregnant, sex-hungry whore that smells like a sewer and has a mask created by enlarging Taylor’s profile picture on Clicksters. In the video, “Taylor” unsuccessfully tries to seduce a guy with a paper bag over his head with a face drawn on it. “Taylor” then turns to face the camera, and then addresses herself as “the dirtiest little whore” that sucks at pretending to be a clean, virtuous girl. How exactly was this video supposed to be funny? Does foul language not exist in this universe? Oh, wait, putting in even a single F-bomb would get this movie a TV-MA rating. How has this video, which is clearly harassment, not been taken down?

So Taylor finally goes over the edge, again illustrating how unrealistically emotionally unstable her character is (is coplety relistc u faggit). Waaaaaaah. And then “Breathe Me” by Sia starts playing. Hold on. Really? What the hell? “Breathe Me” is the most overused song ever to play alongside an emotional scene. And I thought Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” was really out of place in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, one of the most overrated war movies I can think of. “Breathe Me” was effective in the Six Feet Under finale, but it has become criminally overused since then (no it hasnt u f*kig fgaht). The only other song I can think of that has been more overused is “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap. Seriously, that’s ridiculous.

Taylor spontaneously decides to commit suicide. She posts a video on Clicksters saying that she hates herself and wants to die. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaah (shutup is a rly sad sene u f*cng faght). Come on. Suicidal feelings don’t come on that suddenly. They slowly but surely build up, and are rarely ever caused by a single traumatic event. “All the bullying triggered it and so it was gradual,” says you. “Was her emotional stability ever shown to be degrading at any point?” says I. Since it wasn’t, I have no reason to believe that her feelings were just gradual.

Samantha sees the video and calls Taylor’s mother (who is out…somewhere) and tells her what’s happening. Taylor’s mother underacts her shock, and she calls the EMS. Sam drives to Taylor’s house. Taylor’s mom and the EMS arrive probably a minute after. Wait, so Taylor’s mom had time to call the EMS and tell them to get the eff over to her house, get in her car, drive all the way home, and arrive about a minute after Sam does? And somehow the EMS arrive right when Taylor’s mom does. Sam initially can’t find Taylor, but she finds Taylor in the bathroom trying to open a bottle of pills. And then Taylor drops this line.

TAYLOR: Uh! I can’t get the cap off!

I burst out laughing like a hyena. I laughed so hard that I gave myself a headache. I fell off of my couch and onto the floor. Oh, that was capital! You fail at suicide, Taylor! It’s a childproof lock! It’s easy! All you need to do is push down on the cap and turn it to the left! Dammit, Taylor! (suht up u d*k is a rly sad sene i crid alot u f*kng fgot)

Sam gets the bottle out of Taylor’s hands just as Taylor yanks the cap off, spilling the pills all over the floor. Taylor’s mom arrives on the scene as Taylor goes ballistic and “acts” by SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF HER LUUUUUUNGS like there’s no tomorrow (emily osmet is a fatstec atres u fagut). And this scene is an absolute riot to watch. I haven’t laughed this hard since the first time I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

I’m not being insensitive (ys u r u f*kn figat). I’m mocking an unrealistic sequence of events. I’m serious when I say that this is not how buildup to suicide works. How do I know this? I tried to commit suicide once. I was not expecting college to be so stressful and require so much work. Though I was under the impression i was taking twelve credit hours’ worth of classes, in reality, I was taking eighteen or twenty because the system was broken. I quickly became overwhelmed, and after two months, I broke down. At about 9:30 on the last Saturday in February of 2016, in my emotional stupor, I got the cap off, I chugged about 200 sleeping pills, and I went to sleep, intending to go out that way. I woke up a few hours later and puked all the pills up. With barely a thought, I changed my sheets and went back to sleep, thinking, “I really just did that. Huh. Okay. Well.” I shoved the incident back in my mind, and I forgot about it. I probably should have gone to the hospital, but it never occurred to me. I was in a druggy haze throughout all of the next day, managed to slide through classes the next, and then I medically withdrew from my classes. Fast-forward to next semester, and I’ve eased up the load of classes, and will be going through college at a slower pace than normal. I MOVED ON.

And then…Taylor’s now in the hospital? Why? There’s nothing physically wrong with her! She got absolutely no pills down her gullet! The only things wrong with her is her mind’s ridiculous way of processing events! The only instability she has is emotional, not physical! She doesn’t need medical help; she needs counseling! And some serious brain rewiring! (shutup u isenstiv fgit she jus trid 2 cimoot siucud u f*gn fagut)

Taylor goes home, is prescribed tranquilizers, and is instructed to sleep as much as she can as she stays home from school for the next week. WOW. Taylor’s mom tries to get to the bottom of things. She goes over to Cheyenne’s house to ask her what’s been going on. Cheyenne goes on Clicksters to show her everything, but the James Petitious profile is gone. Deleted.

However, in the next sequence, Taylor’s mom has somehow gotten printouts of all of the altercations between Taylor, James, Lindsay, and various other students. She goes to Lindsay’s house, which of course is a smaller version of a legitimate mansion, and is greeted by Lindsay’s father. When Taylor’s mom tries to tell Lindsay’s father what’s been going on, Lindsay’s father, who is actually an attorney, shuts her down.

LINDSAY’S FATHER: If my daughter expressed her opinion about anything –

TAYLOR’S MOTHER: Demeaning, insulting opinions.

LINDSAY’S FATHER: That’s her right. At least, according to the Constitution.

…Yes. That is most certainly her right (no is not u fogat). Her rights do not end where Taylor’s feelings begin (yes thy do u f*kig fgaat). Unless this bullying actually involves a physical altercation, it most certainly is protected under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. However, there is a difference between exercising your First Amendment rights and being decent. Laws do not set moral standards. In this case, parents are supposed to set the moral standards for their children. If those moral standards are breached, then the parents need to discipline their children, save for higher crimes, which are dealt with by juvenile courts.

Oh, wait, I forgot: none of this movie is shot in the USA. It was all shot in Montreal, which is the largest city in Quebec, which is a province of Canada. Go the hell back to geography class and learn where the United States and Canada are on a map. Not only that, but nearly everyone who worked on this film was Canadian. That might explain this movie’s hostility toward the First Amendment to the US Constitution. (th fist amedmit neds 2 b rapeled u f*gin fgaot)

So, since this movie was shot in Canada, are Lindsay’s actions protected under the Canadian Constitution? No. The Canadian Constitution bans speech that is hurtful. That sounds nice, but when put into practice, the Canadian Constitution bans any speech that could be considered hurtful. The term “hurtful speech” is relative. It’s subjective. The definition of “hurtful speech” differs from person to person. I’m not joking. You could be arrested for making somebody go “waaaaaaah”. Little Eight-Year-Old Timmy the Straight-A Student could be arrested for making a snide comment on the playground.

To be perfectly honest, I think it’s a good thing that offensive speech is protected in the USA. Hear me out. When former Breitbart journalist Milo Yiannopoulos visited the University of Massachusetts, he brought up a very good example.

MILO: I don’t agree that bigoted speech is always a bad thing. [crowd in uproar] I think it’s important to hear from them. […] What I want to do is give a platform to all speech. I want more speech of all kinds. Why? I’ll explain to you in one very simple example why that’s the case. A very successful example of this was the British National Party in the UK, which, unlike UKIP (UK Independence Party), for instance, which is a perfectly respectable mainstream party, the British National Party was a racist party, led by a very odious character called Nick Griffin. Now, for a long time, the British National Party was doing very well out of – understandable, I think – anxiety about immigration, and the changing nature of local communities. Lots of people started voting BNP in Britain. Now, these people weren’t racists and bigots; they were voting out of anxiety and frustration. So, here’s what happened: when the media embargo, if you like, was lifted on the leader of the BNP, Nick Griffin appeared on the BBC’s “Question Time” for one hour. This was at the time when the BNP was controlling some local councils. They had successfully stood for election and won overall control of some local councils in Britain. Quite an extraordinary and not a particularly proud moment in British history. But the day Nick Griffin appeared on “Question Time” (and the BBC was criticized mercilessly for giving this guy a platform; “this is hate speech, this is bigotry, he’s a racist, how dare you put this man on TV), what happened, of course, as anyone with any brains would be able to predict, was that the BNP evaporated. When British people saw what the guy who ran this party was really like, they stopped voting for that party. A couple of years later, the BNP is no longer a force in British politics. This is why it isn’t just important to give platforms to ordinary speech; it’s important to give platforms to all speech, because sunlight is the best disinfectant. The best way to deal with people that you don’t agree with, whether they are conservatives or progressives, is the full glare of the spotlight, because you should have the confidence in your own opinions, and you should have the fortitude and courage to believe that you can beat them in a fair, open marketplace of ideas. And if you believe those things, you have nothing to fear from any speaker.

I think I just overstated my case, but I think you get my point. (tht dint evn mak snes u fkig fagt)

Anyway, Taylor starts to go to this victims-of-cyberbullying support group for other people who couldn’t get the cap off. She encounters that gay guy there. To be honest, had this movie been set just a few years later, this guy would not be in that support group. In the months leading up to the legalization of gay marriage, being gay became the new “cool” thing to do. Nowadays, if you are ever bullied if at all because you are gay, then literally everyone around you will literally flay the bully(ies) with hatred. All you need to do is be gay in this society, and the general public will mollycoddle you. (no you f*kg fogoht lgbtq+ pepol r stil bluied and evn kild bcuz ther lgbtq+ u f*kng fagit) While at the support group, Taylor learns of ways she could have stopped the cyberbullying, including ignoring or blocking the bullies! Taylor, you are a moron!

Samantha flips through the comments on Taylor’s pre-suicide video, and sees a comment written by Scott, saying that Taylor freaks him out. Sam then goes on a massive ego trip, seeks Scott out, and tells him that he’s an ass. Oh, yeah, she was just the main cause of all of this; how dare Scott say such a thing.

Taylor’s dad has finally contacted her, and they seem to have mended their relationship. But Taylor, even post-suicide-attempt, is still acting as if she’s the only one who feels pain, as Sam shows up at Taylor’s house and privately confesses to her that she created the James Petitious profile. Again, we never get a comprehensive or comprehensible explanation of Sam’s reasoning and motivation to make her do such a thing. (yes we do u fagaht)

No cyberbullying situation is ever this simple. Rarely is the actual cyberbully someone the victim knows personally. (yes thy r u n*ger)

Taylor is devastated. Waaaaah. Sam goes home, confesses on Clicksters, cries (waaaaah), is told by her mom that it’s okay, and starts getting bullied herself on Clicksters. Because that’s…good? But seriously, why did Sam’s mom tell her that everything’s okay now? Sam caused someone to attempt suicide!

Taylor’s mom goes to the nearest…political figure’s office and tries to turn the situation into a very litigious legal matter. The political figure (I’m not entirely sure how parliament in Canada works, I’m just an American citizen) tries to tell her that it’s a very touchy situation, citing the fact that each individual comment on that social media site has a delete button next to it.

TAYLOR’S MOM: I thought that too until I almost lost my daughter.

Wait, so social network sites actually don’t have delete buttons next to every comment? As I specified earlier, each individual comment clearly had a little X next to it! Those Xs were very easy to see, but Of course Taylor didn’t see them because she’s a goddamn moron! She could have very easily deleted every single bullying comment in less than a minute! And apparently Taylor’s mom also doesn’t know how to Internet! Also, no, you didn’t lose Taylor. As you may remember, she couldn’t get the cap off.

Taylor reconciles with Scott, who apologizes for his misconstruing of the intent of Taylor’s pre-suicide video.

Taylor and her mom decide to take this matter to the press to push their anti-free-speech agenda (tryig 2 stop cybrbuling s gret no mater th cost u digustig faguht). The reporter says that he’ll do the story if he can get Samantha to be part of a “Bully and Bullied” interview. It takes less than fifteen seconds for the reporter to call Sam and for her to agree to be part of the interview. Damn, that was fast.

The interview goes over swimmingly, though I think that bringing a photographer was unnecessary. Sam’s reasoning behind creating the James Petitious profile is revealed: she did it to…protect Taylor from Scott? That still makes no sense (ys it dos u f*kug faggit). Why the hurtful messages? Why the heck would she have written those? This movie is grossly oversimplifying cyberbullying in general (no is not u b*ch). Very few cyberbullying cases end this well. But this interview drops this little exchange:

TAYLOR: Lindsay and the others – they’re after you now?

SAM: It doesn’t matter. I deserve it.

TAYLOR: No, you don’t.

ME: Uh, yes. You do.

(no she doset u f*ikg fgaot)

The next day, Taylor goes back to school. She reconciles with Samantha and Scott. Why has Samantha been forgiven so easily? After Lindsay drops a meanie meanie poop head comment, Taylor walks up to Lindsay and tells her off. Sam and Scott join in, and even Cheyenne and the gay guy toss in their three Canadian cents (the equivalent to two American cents). Everyone in the cafeteria starts listening in, and when Lindsay and her clique leave, their power gone, everyone in the cafeteria cheers. Because everyone in the cafeteria could totally hear that exchange. Cheyenne reconciles with Taylor and Sam, and Taylor, Sam, Cheyenne, and Scott all sit down for lunch together. The relationship between Taylor and Scott could have been cute, but they shared absolutely no chemistry. The rest of the students around the cafeteria spread the message about Taylor telling off Lindsay. Yay! Taylor and her friends stopped bullying! It’s safe to go online now! That’s a sign of a bad movie, by the way. Spreading a message allegedly about love and acceptance, but pissing on the villain. And of course the movie had to have a fairytale happy ending.

This movie thinks its audience is so stupid that they can’t handle an unhappy ending (no wer not u fgait). Do you know who had a similar idea? David DeFalco, the director of Chaos, the worst movie I’ve ever seen. They made their horrendous pile of garbage have an unhappy ending purely because they thought their audience was so stupid that an unhappy ending would be their call to action.

And, like Chaos, Cyberbully put only a minuscule amount of effort into making itself look like its heart was in the right place. But it wasn’t (ys it ws u fgagot). Cyberbully is less concerned about telling a story about cyberbullying (the actual cyberbullying only took up the first half) and more concerned with giving us ridiculous anti-free-speech propaganda, telling us that we should legislate the Internet and the First Amendment of the US Constitution, even though it, having been inadvertently set in Canada, has no jurisdiction to tell the USA what she can and can’t do. It’s all about blaming the accessibility of the Internet rather than holding the actual cyberbullies accountable (is th intrents falt u faghit). This movie oversimplifies actual bullying as something almost playful and inconsequential, rather than highlighting the importance of protecting teens from online harassment (no it dosnt u fahgut). Had this movie actually adhered to actual Canadian law, Samantha, Lindsay, and every single bully would be behind bars for who knows how long. But even then, changing the legal system will not stop bullying (ys it can u dc*k). You can’t make it illegal to be a jerk (ys u can u cn*t)! But to make its hamfisted message even more idiotic, I give you this. Do you know what movie that had a similar premise to yours actually made sure that its heart was in the right place? Cool Cat Saves the Kids. I’m not joking. Though a good message does not automatically a good movie make, Cool Cat’s heart was undeniably in the right place, and I cannot fault its message. Cyberbully, when Cool Cat Saves the Kids has a better message than you do, you did something wrong.

Nowadays, much of the USA has anti-cyberbullying laws, and these are regularly heavily abused (no ther not u fghat). Should we have laws that criminalize joking about a rumor about Justin Bieber? Should Digital Homicide LLC take Jim F-cking Sterling Son to court and sue him for defamation because he can’t stand their awful games? Should David DeFalco, Francisco Orvañanos, Rod Amateau, Luc Besson, Flamarion Ferreira, Bo Welch, Mickey Liddell, Jason Zada, Olatunde Osunsanmi, Courtney Solomon, Rob Zombie, and Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing be able to make me a criminal because I absolutely hated Chaos, Backgammon, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, The Christmas Tree, The Cat in the Hat, The Haunting of Molly Hartley, The Forest, The Fourth Kind, An American Haunting, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and its sequel, and The Gallows respectively? (ys thy shud u faghot)

The beauty of the Internet is that you can control what you see and what you don’t. If you don’t like what I have to say, then change the damn channel. This is something that the writers of this movie did not understand.

Do you know what experts say to do when faced with a cyberbully? It’s very simple and requires no effort whatsoever: do nothing! That’s all you have to do! That’s why the phrase “do not feed the troll” exists! Just let the nastyass crapheads be their nastyass selves!

There is a massive difference between the accessibility of the Internet and the ability to be smart while on the Internet. For example, not talking to people you don’t know online. Not visiting suspicious sites. Not putting personal information online. Playing online games with an intended time limit. Not accessing inappropriate content, such as porn. Not taking the bait when a popup pops up telling you that you’ve won something. Not posting sensitive photos. Not downloading suspicious apps. Not accessing the Deep Web.

Though I read that this movie is supposed to make you think twice about being mean online, in reality, the message turned into how destructive wealthy ignorance is to personal freedom. This movie could have been an educational video supporting the Patriot Act. Thank you so much, you ignorant fools – you’re inadvertently signing away your own civil liberties. (noo wer not u stpud mromn fgoht)

When you say that words can hurt, you’re forgetting something. You’re forgetting that words are just that: words. Words have no power over you on their own. They cannot possibly hurt you unless you let them (ys thy can u faghet). Not only do I consider myself to have a fairly thick skin, but I also consider myself to be somewhat of a quasi-provocateur. My words cannot affect you unless you let them. Should my words offend you, I implore you to listen to what I have to say. If you refuse to, then all you need to do is ignore me and forget me. That’s all you have to do. (no ima reprot u u fhgot)

The story even takes a back seat to the overwhelming preachiness of the film and its message (no it deosnt). It’s way too melodramatic for its own sake (no is not). It’s ridiculous and hard to take seriously, the conflict is completely unrealistic and nonsensical, and there’s no clear resolution (ths move s gret u buly suportig fgaghot). Like Unfriended and The Gallows, Cyberbully may have been written for today’s generation, but it clearly wasn’t written by today’s generation.

The lack of character development, let alone relatability, further undermines the story. Taylor is an emotionally unstable bimbo who is way too overly concerned with what people think of her (no shes not u sexst fagghet). In fact, this emotional instability is literally the catalyst for the plot moving forward. She has no relatable character flaws. She’s airheaded and spoiled. After about a week, Taylor has gone completely off her rocker over a few comments about a rumor about her actually having a sex life. Though everything else in her life seems to be going completely fine, apparently this is enough to send Taylor off the edge. Ironically, Taylor can’t get enough of looking for comments about her on the website, even though they upset her. And after she reads them, she pouts, cries, and slams her laptop shut in a huff as if she wasn’t expecting to find them. After the first incident, she was in tears. But a few days, a few meanie-meanie-poop-head messages, and a laughably made video later, she tries to kill herself, but she can’t get the cap off! Ho, ho. And then after about another week, she seems perfectly fine again. Let me just say that someone who’s truly depressed never “gets over it” in a week. Taylor forgives her brother for pretty much starting this whole thing, and she forgives Samantha for causing her to attempt suicide. I’m not saying that forgiveness is a bad thing, but if someone has posted something particularly hurtful, let alone been such an asswipe to you to the point of you attempting suicide, they’re not worth your time. Their actions were not “little slipups”, like dropping an F-bomb when you stub your toe. No; this was serious, serious stuff. Also, harassing the bully is okay because she harassed someone else? No. That’s a terrible, hypocritical lesson. It doesn’t help that Taylor has a painfully mediocre actress portraying her. Emily Osment, though a decently talented singer despite her less-than-tolerable music, is simply lost in a role that gives her nothing to work with and turns her into little more than a pretty face. While I sense that Osment may have some talent that could be well applied to other roles, she simply cannot possibly hope to live up to her older brother, Haley Joel Osment, who, as you remember, received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense (emly osmet s a gret actres n her cracter is rely rlatibl u faggoht)

Samantha’s motivations for cyberbullying Taylor are mentioned, but they are never elaborated upon to the point where they made sense. That’s really all I can say about her; her character is so flat. Well, I can also tell that maybe Kay Panabaker has some talent, but she as an actress is wasted here.

Cheyenne dropped out of the friendship at the first sign of trouble. Taylor’s mom was just there to spout generic lines about computer safety, have inconsistent expectations of Taylor, and to tearlessly cry. Scott wasn’t even onscreen for five minutes, so, as expected, he left no impact as a character. Lindsay was just there to be the stereotypical Regina-George-in-MeanGirls-esque jerk, occasionally dropping insultingly childish insults. The gay guy was…there. And all of their actors’ performances were either hopelessly average, like Taylor’s mom, completely uncaring, like Scott, or scoop-your-eardrums-out-with-a-spoon-annoying, like Lindsay. The gay guy had some ability, but he was barely onscreen at all, let alone enough to make an impression (ther amazig u fgaggot).

The actual cyberbullying in this movie is unrealistic and laughable (no is not u fc*kig fagt). Any insults given were, at their highest, vulgar enough to breach the lowest eschelons of middle school level, like “slut”, “whore”, “skank”, and “b!tch”, to levels that even a third grader would find immature, such as “lardo” and “dogface”. The antagonists had no clear motive, no reason to hate Taylor, no reason to become so inexplicably invested in her life, and were portrayed in such a childish manner. In completely unrealistic fashion, everyone in the school starts to turn on Taylor, leaving comments about her being a slut. Are we supposed to believe that every student in this entire damn high school is absorbed in the actions of the stereotypical pretty, upper-class white girl who’s living a good life? That idea is extremely far-fetched. (Being called a slut is a normal part of a teenage girl’s high school experience. It’s nothing to break down about.) Later, these bullies make an elaborate video making fun of Taylor. From the looks of the video, it’s obvious that anyone who sees such a video wouldn’t be able to take it seriously. The most critical part of high school, aside from actually getting through it, is being able to deal with harassment. If you can’t find a way to deal with harassment, then people will walk all over you.

Cyberbullying is a serious problem, it should not be swept under the rug, and there should be ways to prevent it. But this movie’s premise is absolutely ludicrous (no is not u fahgit).  Why did her brother and his friends cause the initial incident? Never explained (ys it ws u dc*k). Why didn’t Taylor just block the bullies, delete or report the defamatory posts, or just create a new account altogether? Never explained (ys it was u stpud bsastrad). Why did Samantha pretend to be someone else and bully her friend to the point of attempting suicide? Explained, but only in one sentence that asks more questions than it answers. Why was the entire damn school so obsessed with Taylor and the defamatory posts? Never explained (yes it wsa u fgaghet). Why does Lindsay hate Taylor so much? Never explained (ys it ws u fhgaggot).

I don’t think I have to go into much detail about this movie’s terrible soundtrack. But the movie’s sound editing is terrible; the soundtrack is too distractingly loud, at times being as loud or louder than the dialogue.

You know, had a movie like this been released today, it would have been lambasted by two factions of butthurt social justice warriors. The first faction would accuse this movie of bigotry by making the main character a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, pretty, upper-class white girl rather than a girl who’s foreign, black, handicapped, ugly, depressed, autistic, LGBTQAAIP (silent F), lower class, a loner, anorexic, or fat. The second would incessantly denounce this movie’s critics by saying that if we don’t like this movie, then that means we support bullying; it’s a real problem, and when people make movies about real problems, you’re supposed to like them, and if you don’t like them, then you’re a meanie meanie poop head.

Subject matter does not exempt a movie from criticism. Critics liked Carol, but I found it to be unbearably dull. I don’t care that we’re automatically supposed to like movies about same-sex couples being victims of bigotry common sense. If I don’t like a movie, then I don’t like it. Period. (u homofobic fagggot)

Here’s the thing about a movie with a message. The plot, not the message, needs to come first (no it doset u prc*k). A coherent plot should not be a happy side effect of a hamfisted message. If it is, then the movie as a whole becomes ungodly difficult to take seriously.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the movie should make me hate the bad characters and love the good ones. The movie as a whole was so uninteresting, unrealistic, and completely forgettable, and I cared nothing about the characters. And that is absolutely fatal to any film. (no is not u fghagut)

One last nitpick before I go.

Who on earth would name a social media site “Clicksters”? (hw der u cal urslf a film critc u fckig faggaht)

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars. (kil urslef u fagaht)

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