or, they completely ignore the problems presented by these students.
Many of the students in films that feature teachers as bystanders, such
as those in the aforementioned examples, end up harming themselves
or others because of the lack of support provided for their emotional
instability. The question raised by the bystander effect is this: if these
teachers had been “good teachers” in some capacity, could the tragedies
that happen right under their noses have been prevented?
On the other end of the spectrum is the more extreme bad
teacher as a predator or sexual manipulator. This category exemplified
in films where emotionally struggling students have some form of a
sexual relationship with teachers, as the one that the troubled Megan
Denning (Agnes Bruckner) is coerced into with her previously trusted
teacher Mr. Auster (David Strathairn) in Blue Car (2002). Christian Z.
Goering and Shelbie Witte indicate in their analysis of teachers as
predators that Auster uses Meg’s “situational poverty as an opportunity
to target and then victimize her, using her naivety and apparent
powerlessness to his advantage” (116). This example is an exemplar of
the teacher as a predator stereotype, defined as such because the teacher
character turns the emotional struggles of a student to his or her own
advantage as a way to exploit the student, whether sexually or otherwise.
While the emotionally troubled student develops a positive relationship
with a good teacher in a majority of films, there is a clear pattern of
representation in some cases where the bad teacher may either be an
unaware or unengaged bystander with regard to the student’s struggles,
or the teacher may capitalize on this instability as a form of exploitation.
THE ACADEMICALLY SUPERLATIVE STUDENT
While some students are presented in films as struggling in one
aspect of life or another, there is another large population of student
lead characters that appear to be superior if not “superlative” in some
aspect of life such as academics. The stereotypical teacher’s pet or
straight-A student may form the basic foundation for the academically
superlative student, but the various types of relationships these gifted
students share with their teachers encompass good teachers as mentors,