When I was a kid, bullying was an everyday occurrence. Usually the big insecure kids would challenge us younger, weaker kids to fights for any number of reasons: lunch money, Hot Wheels, Yo-Yos or simply to flex their brawn in public. We didn’t have Anti-Bullying Advocacy Groups jumping in to save us either. When Big Billy Mack held me down on the playground, sat on my face and took me on a trip through what he called “Fart City,” my friends just stood around and laughed.
On television, the bullies I feared seemed larger than life. The most frightening for me was Marv Hammerman, the bully in the ABC After School Special Pssst. Marv Hammerman’s After You.”
Marv is huge – well, by comparison to the focus of his ire, a little trouble-maker nicknamed Mouse. I saw myself in Mouse’s shoes, and was scared to death that Marv would find me, too. (Gimme a break. I was 6.)
After years of searching for this particular episode — I am hopelessly nostalgic, it seems, and there are no copies anywhere online – I found an original copy in the hands of a film collector friend of mine. He transferred the film to video, and I was able to watch it again as an adult. Looking back, Marv turns out to be quite innocuous. Yes, he pummels poor Mouse, but having seen the real bullies of my teen and adult years, Marv comes across as marginal at best.
In reverence of the picked-upon kids, and in memory of the days when bullying meant visiting Fart City every now and again, here are three bullies that garner more laughs than howls of fear from kids and adults alike.
Though Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure isn’t really a children’s movie, it certainly has kid appeal. And Francis, Pee-Wee’s arch nemesis, is a bully worth turning your kids on to. Played by Mark Holton, overweight and over-rich Francis tell kids everything they need to know about bullies: they’re weak, selfish and usually jealous of you. Whether longing for the affection and attention your parents give you or lusting after your bike, bullies hate themselves more than they hate you. And this, kids, means you have all the power. Sure, you may get your ass kicked — or your bike stolen — but chances are you’ll live a happy, long life and that shmuck will probably grow up with a crappy job, end up divorced and may even get arrested for stealing someone’s bike.
“In our world, you were either a bully, a toady or one of a nameless rabble of victims.” So says the narrator of the holiday classic “A Christmas Story. The horribly named Scut is the prototypical kid-villain — ugly, violent and verbally abusive but hopelessly awkward and dumb as a screw-driver. Though Scut is only one of many challenges faced by the dorky-but-loveable Ralphie, he remains a vivid reminder to children just how unimportant these people are in a kid’s life. Avoid him if you can, but when duty calls, don’t take any crap from a guy like Scut.
Matt Dillon is actually quite menacing as school bully Moody in the ‘80s classic My Bodyguard, but it’s the revenge part that’s most entertaining to watch. Granted, the violence endured by Chris Makepeace’s Clifford is tame by today’s standards, but the comical fate Moody meets at the hands of lunky bodyguard Linderman is a knee-slapping good time. Kids don’t need to hire bodyguards, but the message is clear: A good friend will be there for you when the going gets tough, and sometimes – sometimes – good guys win.