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Patton Oswalt Does His Version Of "It Gets Better"

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This isn't an easy one to read, but it's definitely worth it!

Actor/comedian Patton Oswalt recently wrote his version of an "It Gets Better" message on his website, but instead addresses the people that we don't think get enough attention - the friends and enablers of bullying!

He writes:

I’ve been watching a lot of these “It Gets Better” videos online. I’m glad they exist. I’m glad people are making them. I’d bet, if you could do some sort of poll, you’d find out that saying, “It gets better…” to a younger version of yourself is something that a majority of people would opt to do. The bullied and the bullies.

I was both. Bullied, and then a bully.

So this is my version of an, “It Gets Better” video. Only I’m not addressing it to the bullied. And I’m not addressing it to the bullies, either. I’m addressing it to the bully’s little friends.

Dear Guy Who Hangs Out With the Bully and Eggs Him On –

Good move. Really. I know what you’re doing, and I know how it seems like the smart move for you. ‘Cause I did it, too.

When I was in the fifth grade, I started gaining weight, and by the end of that school year, I was a fat kid. I’d been skinny and oblivious up until then – free time meant running around outside, playing soccer, climbing trees. Summer meant swimming.

But then I got swept up in reading, and movies, and music and other sedentary activities. My mind felt like a blazing stock car engine most days, and I didn’t miss the running around so much. If I could curl up with a good book, or a drawing pad, or an old monster movie on TV, all the better. Pretzels and chips and Cokes had the carbs and sugar to feed my swelling, itching brain – especially when I was re-listening to Devo songs.

By the time middle school started, I had the Victim Kit firmly sewed on. Cystic acne, headgear and braces, man-tits and a stupid haircut. Sixth and seventh grade were no fucking fun for me. Summer camp was torture, swimming pools were humiliation ponds, sports were a whirling wall of razors I didn’t dare approach.

By the time eighth grade rolled around, I’d adjusted my strategy. Figure out who the biggest bullies and abusers were, use my nascent comedy skills to make ‘em laugh and hone their taunts, and become part of the asshole entourage.

It was a survival strategy. I had a hand in tormenting an awkward girl named Robin in my eighth grade personal hygiene class. Also a fat(ter), asthmatic kid with a stutter at YMCA camp whose name I can’t remember and countless, faceless others as I glided painlessly in the wake of a trio of bullies whose names I also can’t remember. I only knew they weren’t bullying me, and were actually glad to see me in the morning, ‘cause here comes a guy who knows seven crueler ways to call someone an asshole or shithead (beyond just “asshole” and “shithead”).

By junior year of high school the braces and headgear came off, I lost weight and my skin miraculously cleared up. I got a girlfriend who taught me how to cut my hair. And I carried around (and still carry) a poison vein of self-loathing.

In someone’s memory – in many people’s memories – I’m a snickering, sneering asswipe who hurt and insulted them while peering out from behind the muscular lats of a bigger, more frightening asswipe. There are times when I firmly believe I should have also ended up like a lot of the bullies – stupid, directionless, job-bound and destined for obscurity, anger and oblivion.

It doesn’t fix a fucking thing, for me, to try my best to take the underdog’s side now. Or to embrace the awkward and outcast. That dark slice of regret and disgust with a younger self will never be erased.

So I’m talking to a younger self here – the young Bully’s Little Buddy. I’m trying to tell you that yes, I know how scary middle school and high school and the world must seem, with this clear demarcation (and it seems to get bolder and uglier every day) between abused and abuser. And I understand exactly why you’d want to be on the side of the powerful, cruel and, by default, secure. It’s the reason why some poor people get angry about rich people having to pay more taxes. It’s why people join celebrities’ entourages. It’s why two oppressed, disenfranchised groups fight with each other, instead of the powerful entity that’s oppressing and disenfranchising them.

All of that is true. But it doesn’t change the fact that you have power if you choose to take it. You have power to go stand on the side of the bullied, to stand up to the bullies, to set an example. You can take a deep breath and look at the popular crowd – are they popular because they’re good, smart people? Or are they popular because people are afraid of being their targets? If the second example is the truth, then you can reject them. You can form your own circle, be your own person, and start thinking for yourself early.

I didn’t. And I won’t blame you if you don’t either. It’s so fucking hard. It does get better for the outcast and the bullied. But you, in the bully’s entourage, can help make it better by taking away part of the bully’s power.

You can take away you. And if you take the dare, and do it, you’ll be shocked to see how deep it diminishes the weight and scope and space a bully takes up in the world. And when you see that, and experience it, it’ll be your first – and unarguable – taste of how much weight and scope and space you have.

I’ll never know. I never did it.

Will you?

Sincerely,

Patton Oswalt

Wow. Such powerful words.

And brutally honest.

We commend him for his bravery - it's never easy to look back upon your own mistakes and try to rectify them.

But he's completely, 100% right, we ALL have to be vigilant of one another, and make sure that we're not sitting idly by, aware that our peers or friends are treating others with a lack of respect, and not doing anything about it!

It gets better, but we also have to help it get better!

Thoughts??

[Image via WENN.]

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11 comments to “Patton Oswalt Does His Version Of "It Gets Better"”



  1. 1

    I appreciate this a lot. I was bullied as most people were back in the day. I was overweight back in a time where there were not as many overweight kids. I would honestly much rather have one of my bullies or bullies entourage admit their faults, tell me honestly WHY they were how they were, than actually get revenge on them and make fun of how their lives are now.



  2. 2

    Wow. Believe it or not, i cried while i was reading this. I remember being bullied way back and how hard it was to go on everyday. To make matters worst, my parents know and didn't help me, especially if the bully were women. My father told me that those women are the same as i was so why should i ask for help. The only time my parents helped were when the bullies were men because guys are physically stronger than women. But with female bullies, i have to solve it on my own.
    Because of that, i learn how to defend myself. I don't hold grudges for those people that hurt me once in their life because i believe in karma. I was bullied by them and they may never feel what i felt, but im sure their kids will be bullied too. That's just how karma works and then they will know how it felt.



  3. 3

    Hey Patton, I'm not rich and come January, I'll be paying more taxes.



  4. 4

    WOW, I have thought this, so many times, but could never put it so eloquently! Without the entourage, a bully has NO power, most of them would NEVER stand up to anyone without the backup. I loved this……loved it.



  5. 5

    Re: RedBlayze – I agree this was well said!



  6. 6

    While I'm really glad Perez gave column space to this,isn't his site sometimes sailing perilously close to bullying? Yes,I know public figures know a certain amount of negative criticism comes with the job,but taunts about their figures,sexuality,attractiveness of their spouses etc echos the flavour of the worst kind of childhood bullying.I love gossip,but Perez could deliver it more often with a dash of good-natured sugar rather than overt bile.C'mon,Perez,take a leaf out of this guy's book and vow to be witty and slightly naughty,rather than just plain mean.I know you can do it.



  7. 7

    I was never bullied. I was the sweet skinny girl that everyone thought was so cute. I'm a Sag and if someone tried to bully me, I'd be loud and put them in their place really quick. Half man, half beast and when the beastly side came out people would give me that WTF look and they'd be nice afterwards. I even stood up to the school's biggest, baddest school bully (a guy). Don't F with me, I'm here to learn, not to be harassed. BITCH. To all of you who are being bullied or afraid you might be, be loud and tell them what's up immediately. Sometimes these bullies are just testing the waters to see who they could f with. Don't fight, don't use cuss words, use 'big words' let them know you're a smart kid and what you're about. Just be loud, firm and to the point. Let everyone know what they're up to, maybe someone would even step in. That worked for me, I never got into a physical fight, but if it ever happens to you, tell someone, even if its just a shove. Don't be scared to stand up for yourself in the very beginning. You could do it.



  8. 8

    Wow. Speechless. Thanks for this!



  9. 9

    I was a fat kid back in the 70's. I was bullied for being fat from the 1st grade up to my second year of HS.
    In third grade, one of the boys in my class started to bully me. We were some of the tallest of the class, so we sat next to each other in back of the class. When the teacher would be explaining stuff , he would whisper to me "hey fatty, hey fatso" . When we would line up in the mornings and after recess to make our way to class, he would be behind me and would pinch my arms and my back while calling me fatty. This went on for the whole third grade. He eventually failed a few years and went to another school later on during HS. I never saw him again , though I never forgot what he did to me .
    We both lived in the same small town of 3000 people, though in different areas, I went away to college , he didnt. I'm not even sure he finished HS, but this past summer he was killed in a car accident. He left a wife and a teenaged daughter behind. I cant lie and say that I was sad to hear of his passing. I was glad he died.



  10. 10

    Very well done Mr. Oswalt. I am glad that some people can look back and have that much perspective in light of the bulliying going on today.



  11. 11

    Sometimes, wisdom comes from the least expected places.

    Imagine we are all the same. Imagine we agree about politics, religion and morality.

    Imagine we like the same type of music, art, food and coffee

    Imagine we all look alike.

    Sound boring?

    Differences need not divide us.

    Embrace diversity.

    Dignity is everyone's right.

    - Bill Brummel, Documentary Filmmaker-