Bullying is a part of almost any online game. If someone’s not bragging they did your mom last night, then there’s probably someone else telling you you’re awful at the game. Learning how to deal with this cyberbullying in video games, and separating yourself from it, is an important part of being an online gamer. Due to online gaming becoming popular and more accessible to younger kids, it’s important to start teaching them how to deal with bullies early on.
A series of books and movies, featuring a character named Cool Cat, created by Derek Savage try to teach this type of important lesson. One movie featuring Cool Cat deals specifically with bullying. “Cool Cat Saves the Kids” even has a portion of the movie dedicated to cyberbullying.
How well does Derek Savage’s “Cool Cat Saves the Kids” teach kids to handle bullying? Let’s take a look at some of the movie.
The movie starts by addressing bullying in real life.
Cool Cat goes outside to play with a little girl named Maria. When Maria receives a text message from someone she doesn’t know, Cool Cat encourages Maria to open it. He theorizes it might be good news, or that it might be she won a bunch of money, so she should open it so she doesn’t miss out. Of course it’s someone being a bully and telling Maria her hair is ugly.
Seconds later, Maria receives a second text message. She informs Cool Cat it’s from the same person. Cool Cat tells her she should open this one as well, because maybe the person feels really bad. Of course it’s just more abuse. The bully has now called Maria fat and ugly. And Cool Cat is distraught while telling Maria she’s very pretty.
Cool Cat then takes Maria’s phone and calls the bully to handle things himself. This presumably adult cat-person gets verbally abused by a young boy and seems completely unable to handle this in a rational manner. The rational manner being to hang up.
The message this entire scene sends is just absurd. Encouraging children to acknowledge strangers just because it’s a text message is against every bit of teaching we give children about not talking to strangers. Adding that you might win money if you do so just adds to the strangeness – don’t we teach everyone to not open spam like this? To make matters worse, Cool Cat attempts to handle this all himself instead of telling his parents or having Maria tell her parents about it. And handling it himself is shown to pay off, as bullies who assist the primary bully get shown love and affection by Cool Cat, and that turns them around.
The cyberbullying scene starts right after that with Cool Cat announcing he’s found a cool website. He promptly begins to get upset because someone’s posting mean things, such as saying his nose is fat. Cool Cat responds by telling the bully that they should be nicer so they’ll get more friends. The bully threatens to come and get him.
After a moment of being bothered by that, Cool Cat goes to bed and spends the night tossing and turning. By the next morning, Cool Cat has forgotten all about the cyberbullying problem.
It’s over 30 minutes, and the end of the movie, before we touch on this cyberbullying problem again. Between these two scenes there’s some stuff about Cool Cat going to Hollywood and pointing at some cars that are almost all from shows too old for most 25 years olds to care about, let alone kids, and then a story about how to handle finding a gun.
When they finally circle back to the cyberbullying, Cool Cat announces he’s spent some time thinking about this, “With cyberbullying, you can’t really stop it if you don’t know who it’s coming from. My best advice is to just ignore ’em!”
One of the bullies turned friends agrees, “Yeah, they’re the losers for trying to cyberbully us, so don’t lower your standards by playing their stupid game.”
“And that’s right. And that’s fantastic advice!”
The advice isn’t bad, but it’s certainly a long time in coming and got swallowed up in a bunch of faffing about that holds no appeal to kids, or adults for that matter if a cat-person pointing at cars isn’t of huge interest to you, and has nothing to do with the movie’s apparent goal of teaching safety and morality.
Even setting aside the poor production values, this movie probably shouldn’t be used by any responsible parents hoping to teach their children why they shouldn’t be bullies or how they should handle being bullied while gaming. The movie has some valuable words of advice, but promptly disregards them – Cool Cat instructing kids to look both ways before crossing a street then minutes later rushing out into a street without looking both ways just to chase down a child, Daddy Derek telling kids to stay away from a gun, but instructing them to walk home alone while a bully child with a gun is out in the neighborhood – making it a confusing lesson for any child that actually needs to be taught these things.
Parents would be better off just telling their children to ignore bullies right from the get-go and offering to hear them out if they hear anything in an online game that bothers them.
The real irony in all of this comes from Derek Savage, the writer, director and producer of “Cool Cat Saves the Kids” being unable to take his own advice about ignoring bullies. He flagged at least two negative reviews of this movie, one done by I Hate Everything and the other by Bobsheaux, and had them removed for copyright violation. He also made a threat against I Hate Everything on Twitter from an account called CoolCatLovesYou, “If that troll punk ever does anything Cool Cat related again, then I can legally have his entire Youtube channel deleted!”
So even if a parent were to find the movie generally inoffensive or even valuable for their child, it’s not advisable to let them follow Cool Cat on Twitter. That cat’s clearly got some issues being a cyberbully himself.