A fascinating, heartbreaking documentary that offers real perspective behind an issue on which anyone who follows news or politics has an opinion, “Reject” is a tremendous film about a seemingly simple topic: rejection.
Everyone experiences it throughout their life, but for some it becomes something more, and for a select few, it is the impetus for violence.
Director/producer Ruth Thomas-Suh and producers Kurt Engfehr and Peter Brauer raise the question of how rejection affects us, and how it impacted people who committed acts of violence, such as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Columbine, and other mass shootings.
Drawing off scientific research and case studies, Thomas-Suh shows how bullying by peers and rejection are major driving forces in causing people to snap. Scientists conducted experiments showing how simply playing a video game where the player had the perception of being excluded caused brain triggers approximating physical pain, and how even a very slight rejection led to feelings of depression.
We meet real people affected by rejection, notably Eric Mohat, a teen from Ohio who committed suicide after being bullied, and a preschooler named Justin, a Hispanic boy who is quickly labeled with behavior and language problems.
Thomas-Suh offers a reasoned approach and makes a real claim as to how emotions produces a pain equal to (or even greater than) physical pain and how society ignores, perpetuates and even participates in it.
The debate on what drives people to random violence, aimless lives of crime and self-destructive behavior will continue to rage, but “Reject” is a sensible, level-headed addition to the discussion, one that every teacher, parent and naysayer should watch and learn from.
“Reject” is the agent of social change that documentaries like “Bully” wish they could be.