Sunday, May 13, 2012

Do Bullies Grow Up?

I worked and lived in a prep school dorm for over 30 years. Dorm duty teachers were told to be vigilant when it came to hazing. I had been in army boot camp and in a college frat, but the hazing and bullying I witnessed in boys' dorms surpassed any I had been subjected to. One night at about 3 a.m. My wife And Iwere awakened to wild screaming. When I arrived on second floor, I encountered boys rolling fiery tennis balls down the hall past a mattress. On that mattress lay a boy sound asleep. The other boys knew this boy had deep sleeping problems and often had to be dragged out of bed To get to classes. They often took advantage but this went beyond simple hazing. It was demeaning and dangerous. A talented athlete received the rumor treatment because he was shy about showering with his teammates and would wait until after lights. The rumor spread that he was gay, despite his athletic prowess and "manly" behavior. One night after a game, his teammates waited until he was in the shower and surprised him with sexual taunts. The humiliated boy did not return for his senior year. Long before the current interest in bullying, weaker students, especially boys were pushed into lockers and hooted at in classes. One had a nervous breakdown; another later committed suicide. A question. Do the victims and perpetrators remember these humiliations? Mitt Romney has been accused of leading fellow bullies in ganging up on an effeminate boy and forcibly cutting the boy's newly dyed blonde hair. This is only one of the accusations made by fellow students, both bullies and victims. Romney chuckled as he declared he couldn't remember the incidents. All boys, according to the GOP presumptive nominee, play pranks. All boys, Mitt? These kind of pranks, Mitt? Is that the norm for exclusive prep schools? Sadly, like Howard Dean, Romney has memory lapses, but laughs them off. He apologizes,..IF....indeed he was involved in such high jinx. IF? High Jinx? Again, the central question. Does the bully stay with the adult? If so, can we chance a bully in the White House, especially one who can't remember?!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Nice and Raunchy

Judd Apatow's formulaic comedies include The 40 Year Virgin and Knocked Up. The latter is perhaps the best of the bunch, combining all-out grossness with a basically sweet story and Paul Rudd stealing the show in a supporting role. Now we have Jason Siegal and Emily Blunt as two mismatched lovers who must constantly postpone their wedding date because of career and personal choices. Both actors are delightful, especially Blunt, who shows considerable range in both her comic scenes and in the dramatic crises. The problem is that the writers cannot resist jokes that often fall flat or, even worse, get dirty in a frat house way. The 5 Year Engagement could have been a sweet but salty comic romance, but the boys in charge can't get out of the potty.