As I think back to my labored days in high school, I cannot help but feel that even on my worst day, when everything went wrong and all hell seemed out to get me, I never had it as badly as Jimmy Hopkins, the predetermined troublemaker of Bully. Jimmy is abandoned by his mother and her new husband, and from his inception into Bullworth Academy, he is accused, beaten up, betrayed, attacked, looked down on by his peers, and discouraged by his teachers; in short, he is figuratively castrated of what little dignity he ever had to begin with.

To complicate matters further, Bullworth (which is a fictional New England school) is run by an ignorant, power-tripping principal, and a knowledgable yet highly incompetent staff of teachers. The prefects that are supposed to keep law and order are verbally abusive and emotionally destructive to the students, and to feed the fire further, social groups are organized and divided by cliques, painting a comical stereotypic scenario.

My high school eduction took place in Seattle, Washington within a small school in the NE side of the city. The school broke our studies into what they called "academies" and intentionally kept the total population to about a thousand students. This was done in the hopes of creating an environment that would perpetuate an intimate setting for learning; that is, smaller classes, fewer students, and in turn, increased personal interaction between teachers and students.

Sure, we had trouble at our school even though its size had been controlled and its influences refined. There were gangs in the area. we had cliques. racism was prevalent. normative, high school-type issues ensued frequently. However, nothing was ever as bad as a day in the life of Jimmy Hopkins at Bullworth Academy.

To begin, a look at the nature of my time in high school is in order. I was not a jock (by this I mean that I did not play sports simply to play sports; I also never had an interest in sports, in general). I was not a nerd (by any confined sense of the word). I was not a greaser (by my first day in high school, Seattle had been fresh out of this stereotype for some time) and I never got wedgies from bullies. However, regardless of all of these truths, I was neither 'cool' nor 'uncool.' Now, I know what you're going to say: "a person's coolness or uncoolness is not real and is only a measurement of one's perspective in relation to his environment. there are neither cool objective principles in or apart from the universe, nor uncool objective principles in or apart from the universe.", and you'd be right to say just that. I tend to agree. the borders by which we judge much of what we hold valuable are decided by those who are quickest, and those with the loudest voice. Likewise, Jimmy Hopkins showcases a similar predicament as he experiences life in one of the worst schools at which a kid could end up. Observe the poor bastard's condition.

Bullworth Academy houses four distinct cliques: the nerds, the jocks, the preps, and the greasers. On top of this, the school is also inhabited by the illusive "bully" social group, which seems to be neither here nor there. But still, the label sticks, and we find out early on that the principal has made it his goal to stifle the "bullies" of Bullworth. To Jimmy's dismay, even after informing the principal that he is looking for the wrong bullies - that the kids that are actually bullies are not those within the "bully" social group - principal Crabblesnitch disregards his insight and presses on with his incorrect formulation of what must be done. Jimmy's conclusion quickly turns into a sort of mission statement, thus giving the game a loose sense of direction. Jimmy then must engage all of the social groups, one-by-one, going through mini-missions in an attempts to finally get to the head of each group.

An interesting phenomenon occurs with the assimilation of each group. in the defeat of each clique leader, Jimmy conquers, thus imposing his power over them. However, he never becomes like any one particular social group. With each dominating sweep, Jimmy moves his hand with a mightest touch, assimilating each group into his own, thus removing the confines of being in a stereotypical social group. In this way, Jimmy is defined by what he is not. that is, he is not a jock, a nerd, a greaser, nor is he a prep. In essence, Jimmy is the absence of these things. In my mind, this raises even more questions to answer. But I will restrain myself for the time being, and reserve these further tangents for another survey of Bully.

It can be argued that Jimmy is not interested in becoming a part of any one social group. It can also be argued that Jimmy is not interested in becoming the leader of any one social group. In fact, it seems that what Jimmy wants most is to disarm the bullies that currently have power (that is, the "bullies", the jocks, the preps, the greasers, and to some extent those in power within the nerd clique), a fact unbeknownst to principle Crabblesnitch. Of course, by the end of Chapter 4, Jimmy has circumvented the authority and influence of each of the respective clique's leaders, having created a more-or-less peaceful coexistence within the school, and having developed something of a superiority complex (which one immediately senses as a foreshadowing of his downfall). But it remains, even when this power is put through the fire, Jimmy is not interested in finding his identity in any one particular group.

Interestingly enough, the one group Jimmy seems most at home with (as the Bully adventure comes to a close) is the townies. Now I'm not so sure that this is a social group (or clique) in the same way the nerds are, or the preps, etc. However, it does seem that Jimmy finds himself more at home with this industrial group, and furthermore, he actually does something to relate with them. an example of this is in Jimmy's seemingly instant connection with the main townie girl, Zoe. He doesn't seem to interact with her as he's done with the rest of the social cliques' main squeezes; his relation is sincere.

Anyway, Bully is a fascinating game with fascinating characters. Sure it's aimed at an audience slightly younger than the Grand Theft Auto crowd, but there's real gold to be found amongst its narrative wiles. Besides, considering the stereotypes at play, and the subject matter, there is plenty of interesting stuff to come back to.

platform utilized: Playstation 2
genre: open world, action
where to find: If you're wanting the original game, which is available on PlayStation 2, here's where you want to go. If you're interested in the version which boasts of more levels, characters, school subjects, as well as 2-player capabilities and sharper graphics, check out Bully: Scholarship Edition.

The Wedgie I Never Received: Bully, 2006

Posted on

Jan 19, 2012

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