Lessons From The Video Game “Bully”

Lately I replayed the video game Bully. The basic plot is that you go to boarding school and beat up kids. Probably the most clever game I have ever come across.

And it’s got me thinking about some life lessons.

1. Bullying goes both ways. Our society — at least how we view childhood — had a kind of Marxist conflict between the bullies and the bullied. In reality, most kids do a fair amount of bullying and are bullied themselves. This idea that the nerds are the noble martyrs of high school has created a culture where everyone now claims to be a nerd. But really, the nerds deeply despise the jocks and constantly look down on them (this applies to my high school self).

2. Nerds are manipulative. Gavin McInnes had a video about this. We like the idea that jocks are shallow and nerds are good and noble and true, but the reality is that being on the weakling side of society just makes one more likely to use loopholes to get what they want.

And so in the game, the nerds are porn addicts who manipulate the main character into getting illegal photos of the head cheerleader. Yeah, the jocks in the game may be bullies and have an IQ of 80, but at least they aren’t two-faced.

The nerds project their own self-hatred onto others. This extends well into adulthood. Dorks assume most people are out to get them, when in reality most people don’t care.

3. School doesn’t matter. In the game, one boy talks about pre pre pre medical exams. A girl says if she loses her chemistry notes, cancer with never be cured. But most of what is taught in the classes is totally irrelevant to life (and the creators made it worthless on purpose). Especially biology, just like in real school.

Even if you know this is false, the idea that your grade percentage to the decimal point will determine your life path is so pervasive that it is very hard to shake it off until you have been out of school for a few years (and college isn’t much better).

Whether you made straight As or straight Ds means nothing to most employers. Every day I regret college — not just because of the money, but because I could have spent those years learning carpentry or something.

Beyond fifth grade, you’ll learn very little of use. Spanish or Algebra would be useful for how they retrain your brain, except the teachers are idiots and you gain nothing from it except how to pass the test. Really, every student should be required to take basic logic and home economics, but if kids learned to think independently then administers wouldn’t be able to keep the kind of control they need on these biological adults that the law says are children.

4. (((Psychiatric))) health is bullshit. And maybe I’m biased because I’ve been institutionalised against my will before and stuck with the bill because my borderline personality mother lied, but if there’s a right way to do mental health recovery, America isn’t interested in it.

And are these institutions interested in your well being? Of course not! Just that they have you stable (ie, submissive) enough to avoid legal culpability.

In the game there’s a psychiatric hospital where the patients are locked up on trumped up charges. Not too far from real life. It doesn’t take much to get thrown in the slammer “for health reasons”. And the vast majority of psychiatric drug prescriptions are a money racket, which just does a disservice to people who truly suffer from ADHD and autism by killing the diagnoses’ credibility.

For all the neurologists and therapists I saw as a child, they totally missed my severe OCD.

The liberals say people with mental health disorders shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. LOLercoaster! When (((they))) quit over-diagnosing people for insurance payoffs, I’ll maybe consider this point.

5. There is an intangible beauty to old America. The story take place in a kind of northeastern Atlantic town. And despite the vapidity of people, there’s a certain charm to the area. Even among the griminess, povertiness, and every offer undesirableness, things have a purpose. Regardless of your social status, you had a community. There’s no internet or cell phones.

6. America is unfair. Look, I hate to sound leftist, but it’s a valid point (though fairness isn’t quite a virtue in and of itself). Rich whites and poor whites have very little in common, going back far beyond the founding of this country (Jim Goad’s Redneck Manifesto is an amazing document of this). The wealthy have their side of town and their families, and the poor have their own ghettos. While social mobility is possible, you have to at least act the part (as evidenced by the new rich kid in the game with the fake high English accent).

7. An institution’s reputation isn’t necessarily deserved. Bullworth Academy has a lot of old money invested in it, and it’s clear that it used to be something worth attending. Today the buildings are falling apart, and many classes teach very little.

I would argue that Harvard and Yale and the Ivy League schools were always thought-controlled institutions of indoctrination, going back past the unitarian days of the American Revolution and back to the Puritans. They’ve never been good schools; they are just well-reputed. They are great places to make connections with people and not much else.

8. Kids never grow up. Is bullying just a high school thing? Of course not. The school faculty does their share of bullying too. There’s not a huge difference between childhood and adulthood.

9. Society rewards losers. The best way to succeed is to lose all integrity. The main character Jimmy may be a bully and a scumbag, but he stands up to bullies and defends the weak, and for that he suffers all kinds of consequences. The teachers and students who are the true bullies, liars, manipulators, empty moralizers, hypocrites, and psychopaths, however, are awarded the most trust.

10. Divorce and remarriage harms kids. You’re at boarding school because your mother is on “her 58th honeymoon”, which seems to be a cruise that lasts the whole year. Jimmy is very hurt by how his mother doesn’t care about him, and this turns him into a thug.

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