When I heard the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre last Friday morning, I was, up until that point, far removed from Newtown, CT. I was on my way to Charlottesville, VA for a weekend of Dave Matthews Band.
My sister and I like to attend at least one Charlottesville show to sort of round out the touring season each year. This year, we had tickets to both shows, but a weekend that was supposed to be filled with joy and mirth was marred with shock, outrage, grief, anguish, and guilt.
During the intermission between opening act The Lumineers and the moment DMB took the stage, my sister turned to me.
“Do you think he’ll mention what happened this morning?”
I did, and he did.
We’re making big strides in the anti-bullying movement, and – like it or not – we have some celebrities and entertainment media to thank for some of the progress.
From Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to all the famous names who’ve contributed to the It Gets Better Project, musicians and actors alike are speaking out to raise awareness and provide resources.
Artists are contributing with actual movies and music, too: The Bully Project gained heavy publicity when people petitioned to have its movie, Bully, changed from Rated R to Rated PG-13 so more kids could see it, and “Bully,” the first single off rock band Shinedown’s latest album, highlights the dark reality (and thoughts) many bully victims face.
Yet, while these campaigns and projects are excellent ways to spread the word and encourage victims of bullying to seek help, nothing hits home quite like a real life story – especially one that shows us how bullying affects an entire family, even years after the bullying has stopped.
The following is one such family’s story:
U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson hopes to make a comeback after her gold and silver wins back in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but the 20-year-old woman has an entirely different attitude about the equipment she uses to compete.
Namely, her body.
Johnson gained around 25 pounds during her three-year break after Beijing. It’s no surprise. She went from being a medal-winning Olympic gymnast to a regular teenager.
Yet, the media – which was used to seeing her with next-to-no body fat – went wild.
On Friday, the White House announced that legendary women’s basketball coach Patricia “Pat” Summitt will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of America’s highest civilian honors.
Summitt, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2011, launched The Pat Summit Foundation Fund to provide grants for nonprofit organizations that provide Alzheimer’s education, support, and research.
Last week, Summitt stepped own from her role as the head coach for the Tennessee Lady Vols last week with 38 seasons and 1,098 wins under her belt. She is now head coach emeritus.
President Obama praised Summitt for her hard work and success, both as a basketball coach and an advocate for curing Alzheimer’s:
Coach Summitt is an inspiration, both as the all-time winningest NCAA coach, and as someone who is willing to speak so openly and courageously about her battle with Alzheimer’s.
Learn more about The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund.
Meghan McCain, an MSNBC contributor and Daily Beast columnist, is fairly well known for her no holds barred attitude toward, well, most things.
McCain isn’t quiet about feeling there’s room for everyone in the GOP, and she speaks out often on women’s issues, marriage equality, and social issues.
So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that she frankly lets Playboy‘s David Hochman know how she feels about homosexuality, love, and being oneself.
His funeral is tomorrow.
Earlier this week, his older sister gave an interview to our local news channel. She discussed not only the serious bullying her brother endured (so serious, in fact, the family had plans to move and enroll him in a new school next week), but also how prevalent bullying is at that particular school. She spoke of students crying in class, fearing for their safety, and even missing school to avoid their bullies.
According to the news, the school district has yet to recognize a link between bullying at the school and the boy’s suicide.
It’s difficult for me to wrap my brain around the fact that this 12-year-old child, who had his whole life ahead of him, is now gone. My heart aches for his family and friends, and for him, who could still be here today if only the bullying were stopped in time.
Or didn’t happen at all.
As of February 14, 2012, the Associated Press reports we still don’t know an exact cause of death for Whitney Houston; thus, I am not claiming Houston’s death was an overdose or drug related. However, Houston battled addiction for years, was found underwater in the bathtub, and there was evidence of alcohol and prescription drug use (including Xanax, Valium, and Lorazepam).
So, while I’m not claiming she overdosed or died due to some other drug-related cause, I am saying making that assumption wouldn’t be too far a stretch.
With that being said, I admit, the death of Whitney Houston shocked me. Truly. I thought the “R.I.P Whitney Houston” hashtag was just another Twitter scam.
We can even take it a step further and, oh, I don’t know, avoid reporting such suicide attempts as news, too.
Late last month, the ridiculously hot (sorry) Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors, From Paris With Love) was rushed to Central London hospital after being found slumped over on his floor. Paramedics were called, but it took police backup to escort the uncooperative Meyers to the hospital. Apparently, the 33-year-old actor (who’s had substance abuse problems and completed rehabs in the past) had overdosed.
Immediately, The Sun ran a story about the “suspected suicide attempt.”
Tim Robbins and Mark Ruffalo have signed on to star in Thanks For Sharing, a “film about sex addicts participating in a 12-step recovery program” (slick title). Thanks For Sharing is currently in pre-production mode, is slated to hit theaters in 2012 and, according to IMDB, will be a comedy.
I’m sure the film’s writer, Stuart Blumberg, who is also making his directorial debut with Thanks For Sharing, will be able to pull off some humor. I mean, he co-wrote The Kids Are All Right, and even though that story had the makings for some serious drama, it produced its fair share of warmhearted laughter, too.
Likewise, I’m sure (or at least, I hope) any humor the film delivers will be backed up by reality. Here in the real world, sex addiction is one mighty touchy subject. Some claim they have it, others claim they don’t. Some say it’s just an excuse for bad behavior, others claim it’s a real problem. Hearts are broken, families are torn apart, lives are put on hold – you get the idea.
But, all a lot of us have to go on is what we read in the media. We think about the turmoil Tiger Woods caused Elin, or the humiliation Arnold Schwarzenegger’s exploits have brought Maria.
For this week’s “Weekend Reading,” I thought I’d gather up some sex addiction information from the experts.
There’s been some speculation that one of Hogwarts’ finest is leaving school due to bullying.
And not Hogwarts, mind you, but Rhode Island’s Brown University.
21-year-old Emma Watson, who has played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movie series since the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, has attended Brown University for the past two years (Granger would be so proud). However, when the starlet’s spokeswoman announced she wouldn’t be spending her third year at Brown, rumors began flying that Watson had chose to leave because her classmates were bullying her.
Most notably, they would chant “Ten points for Gryffindor!” when Watson correctly answered a question in class.
Still, the bullying – as well as the Gryffindor comments – apparently never happened.