I was that girl—not just in high school but in elementary school and junior high too. In elementary school, I was hounded by the girls down the street who blocked my path while I was riding my bike, called me a “Mama’s girl” when they made me cry, and generally ignored me when we were on the playground at school. In junior high, it was the mean girls in my youth group and my own best friend who ignored me, gossiped about me, and judged me for being myself. Unsurprisingly, nothing changed in high school. I was ignored—and I mean completely ignored—for my entire first semester of ninth grade. Later, I was on the receiving end of slights, snubs, and judgments. It was awful, and I still haven’t gotten over it all, and I’m twenty-four. It would be oh-so-nice to have closure or an apology or even an acknowledgement that I was treated wrongly. But you know what? I’ll never get that…so the next best thing I’ve found is to live vicariously through the film You Again.
If you’ve seen You Again, you’ll know it’s one of the few movies out there that deal with the effects of bullying years after the actual bullying has taken place. Marnie (played by Kristen Bell) is a twentysomething who returns home for her brother’s wedding only to discover that his bride is the woman that made her life a living hell in high school. Marnie sees this as an opportunity to get closure, but unfortunately, the woman a.k.a. Joanna claims that she can’t remember Marnie. Things go from bad to worse when Marnie realizes that Joanna is lying. She decides that revenge might be just as satisfying as closure.
The first few times I saw this movie I was nearly brought to tears by the truthfulness of it all. I could empathize with Marnie’s pain and anger. I’d felt it myself on so many occasions. I’d also felt the yearning to get some sort of closure. For years I’d toyed with the idea of speaking to the women who terrorized my life when I was a teenager, but I’ve always known just how it will end: Either they won’t remember what they did or they simply won’t see what a big deal it was. Heck, my own mother doesn’t understand why it’s such a big deal to me. Still, the thing about this movie is that—in the end—Marnie does get closure. First, she gets disbelief and lack of understanding, but then, finally, she gets her apology. It’s a great moment in the film because those in audience who have been longing for those words for themselves can have a brief glimmer of acknowledgement and acceptance. You see, even if the woman or women who actually tortured you won’t say they’re sorry, here is a movie that acknowledges that you are completely right to feel hurt and that you are deserving of an apology. It empathizes with you, and, while that might not feel as good as an apology, it is certainly better than nothing at all.
I really recommend watching You Again. I watched it with all the women on my mom’s side of the family, and we loved it. I can’t say whether any of them came away with the same sense of recognition as I did, but I’m sure there are others of you out there who would loved to feel like someone understands some of your life story. Here is a movie that does.
Originally posted on my other blog: ReaderlyGeek.tumblr.com