Last week, a good friend of mine sent me a link to an animated short on YouTube. We met each while studying animation in college, so we frequently share animated short films with each other to keep us inspired. We’ve come across a lot of awesome shorts, but I really wanted to share this one with the Shadow’s Edge community. It really spoke to my heart and I know a lot of you would appreciate it as well.
First things first – Who made “are you okay?”
The short was made by “Fight Child Abuse” – a program developed by the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation. It was produced with the collaboration of Wonder Media and the Joshua Center at the University of Washington and directed by Ryan Cannon. (I am a big geek about knowing who-made-what-films, so I wanted to include that 😊).
Fight Child Abuse is an animated series for educating kids and teens about what to do when confronted with abusive behavior, going to a parent or another trusted adult if they’ve experienced an unsafe situation, etc. This program is doing an amazing thing for kids and teens by providing education and resources, so even before watching the video I am happy to have learned about them.
**TW: While “are you okay” covers the topic of online bullying, many of the other animated shorts by Fight Child Abuse cover the sensitive topic of sexual abuse. If you decide to check out their other videos, please watch them at your own discretion. **
Why I loved this animated short film.
It shows a very relatable experience for teens and young adults – being bullied.
“Are you okay?” tells the story of two teenagers dealing with online bullying. A lot of us have dealt with online and real-world bullying, and it can be really lonely when it feels like the whole world is turned against you. Online bullying oftentimes bleeds into our real-world lives and it isn’t as simple as turning off our devices. There is even a short moment in the film where a dad says, “just log off!” I felt like I could hear every person who’s dealt with it say “Well geez, Dad. If only it were that simple.”
So, seeing it shown how online bullying affects us in our everyday lives made me feel like this short could help teens express to their parents that it isn’t always as simple as “logging off.” And I think seeing it shown in a film will make people feel less alone in what they are going through.
It expressed how it feels to be depressed in a unique and relatable way.
One of the things I love about animation is that it makes expressing complex emotions much more interesting and relatable. As one of the main characters in this film becomes more affected by the bullying she is experiencing, she starts to get weighed down by this creepy, purple sludge. And there is a moment when another character is literally drowning in the purple goo… a very relatable feeling for those of us who’ve felt like they were drowning in their sadness.
The purple slime looks like it feels heavy and gross… just like depression does. Just looking at it reminds me of my “Doomsdays,” or the days I was at my lowest point.
So when someone can’t find the words to share what they are feeling, this can be a visual example they can share. They can show it to someone (like a parent, friend, or therapist) and say “look – this is what I’m trying to tell you I am going through.”
“Are you okay?” is different from other PSA’s about bullying.
Watching this film, I see something I’ve seen over and over in educational videos that our teachers showed us in school. “Bullying is awful, and it hurts. Don’t do it. Ask for help if you are being bullied and report it if you see it.” Yet, people are still being bullied everywhere and every day. And on top of that, those videos didn’t always show how hard it is to ask for help. Or why we were afraid of reporting the bullying we saw – because they bullies could turn on us next if we did.
It shows the importance of checking in.
Yeah, the film definitely showed the horrors of bullying. But I don’t feel like the main point of the film was to show how horrible bullying is. Personally, I feel like the main point of the film was to show how important it is to check in with others if they are going through something hard. There are already plenty of short films, movies, and PSAs about the horrors of bullying. But I haven’t seen a lot of films about how we can help each other get through the drowning feelings of sadness, and how a simple act of kindness can be the lifejacket that pulls us out of it.
There are times in life where we might feel like we are completely alone in the world. That we are drowning in our depression. Or that we have to keep a brave face on through the whole thing so as not to be a burden. But hearing those simple words can sometimes be the best thing we can hear – “are you okay?” Just the simple question of “are you okay” can change someone’s life when they are drowning in their struggles. This film shows how one person can have a life-saving effect on another when they reach out.
Want to watch the animated short “are you okay?”
I hope you like it as much as I did. And I hope it is a nice reminder for all of us to check in with that classmate that needs to hear those words right now… “are you okay?”
Don’t forget to give their channel a follow! I get the feeling that they will have even more amazing videos like this coming our way in the future.
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