“The Scut Farkus Affair”
Black Friday might be a big shopping day, but it’s also the beginning of the “Christmas Story” watching season. In addition to being the greatest Christmas movie, it’s loaded with important life lessons. Throughout the movie Ralphie, the protagonist, is bullied by the neighborhood tough Scut Farkus and his half-pint toady, who specialize in arm twisting and noogies. Ralphie and his friends do everything they can to avoid Scut and diligently “use their words” to no avail. Finally, Ralphie reaches the breaking point when Scut hits him in the face with a snowball, breaking his glasses. In a blind rage, Ralphie pummels the much larger bully Conor Macgregor-style, bloodying Scut’s nose and ending his reign of terror.
Flash forward to current times. Ralphie, programmed from birth to avoid confrontation and bombarded with school zero-tolerance violence policies, would never have stood up to the bully (if he did, he would be expelled and Scut would be the victim). Instead of imagining himself saving his fantasy family from Black Bart using only his Red Rider bb gun, Ralphie might have had darker fantasies of exacting revenge on his tormentors (school shooter?). My Sicilian grandfather (who recently turned 100) likes to say, “everyone understands a punch in the face.” When I was a kid, if you got punched in the nose you usually deserved it (bullies didn’t beat people up, they specialized in Charlie horses, wedgies, and the dreaded swirly). Maybe our current workplace violence and bullying pandemic might be better if we let kids solve some of their own problems. Bullies would learn early on that there are real consequences to their actions, and the bullied might not feel so helpless.