ParaNorman - Rewritten

Just saw ParaNorman, and it was OK.  The theme of the movie seemed to be: don't kill yourself if you are being bullied, and don't take a gun to school to kill your tormentors, either.  My husband saw the moral of the movie also seemed to be aimed at the Tea Party, with strong admonitions against killing people who make you afraid.

I am going to take the liberty of suggesting some ParaNorman rewrites:

The bullying setup is fine.  The disappointed, shallow father is fine.  Is it necessary for the father to be so dismissive of the mother?  Isn't there any respect there at all?  Just saying.

When the odd uncle dies and his spirit tries to get Norman to pick a book off of his dead body, it makes more sense if the boy refuses.  He is already strange in the eyes of his classmates.  He would be reluctant to do something to be seen as more strange.  Besides, that's what kids do.  They try to fit in.

Also, it would be more interesting if Norman didn't care if the town was destroyed.  After all, no one liked him there.  When kids get guns and kill other kids at school, this is what is going on.  They are attacking the ones who attacked them.  So why would Norman care so much?  Why would he be inclined to save the jerks who are hurting him?  It would be more interesting if he said no.  Then he would be going through the same journey as the ghost-girl.  From hate to forgiveness.  The complete lack of anger in the movie is unrealistic.

The Uncle-ghost would implore him, urge him, pester him to change his mind.  Still, Norman would not do it.  He would mouth off to his Uncle.  Then the disaster would begin.  Norman, at first, would enjoy the carnage.  Then he would see how the people he cared about would be affected.  He would see how they would be scared.  He would realize that he had to be the person who did something about it.  That he was the only one who could.  He finally listens to his uncle and sneaks out of the house to take action.

Then the whole adventure of the zombies begins.

After it's over, and the town is a wreck, the bully goes back to treating Norman badly - like would happen in real life.  But now Norman is different.  He pushes back by reminding the bully that he peed in his pants earlier and who cares what he thinks anyway.  Norman calls him a coward outright.

One part of reality that is missed in these bullying discussions is how the kids who are big bullies in middle school and high school generally turn out to be total losers.  That should be hinted at here.

The answer isn't "understanding your bully is afraid."  In middle school, people are afraid of not belonging or being OK.  Understanding that does nothing for the victim.  It is a phase of life and socialization.  That part of the human experience needs to be couched with firmly-established limits on acceptable conduct.  You know: manners.  And to give the victims of bullies things to say back to their tormentors.

The essential problem, of which bullying is but a symptom, is rigid conformity.  The standardized testing pill our children have been forced to take has reinforced the idea that to be OK you need to conform.  Social media makes social rejection wholesale.

Kids need to get a message that is something other than "forgive" and "understand."

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