Billy Zabka, whom you may know as Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid and evil blond jock from other various ’80s films, recently went to a dojo in Clarysville, Maryland to give a keynote talk on their second annual Anti-Bullying Day. Zabka also brought on-screen bully friend Rob Garrison, who played Tommy, and spoke about the cyclical nature of bullying.
“We were bullying, but we were also bullied,” said Zabka about training for the movie with Tommy. “There’s a saying: ‘a bully is a victim whose story has not yet been told,’ so there’s not just black and white.”
Using Johnny as an example, Zabka talks about empathizing with his character’s actions.
There’s people who’re dishing out what’s being given to them at home. Not to excuse their behavior, but that’s why the behaivor has to stop; because it’s cyclical and it progresses and it reaches us and it may be in us, but it needs to stop … Where’s Johnny’s dad? Where’s Johnny’s mom? Kreese is his dad. Who’s Kreese? He’s a guy who has his own issues. He’s got control of all these kids and teaching them a certain way. You have Mr. Miyagi who’s teaching right and Kreese who’s teaching wrong.
He goes on to talk about how in the bullying scenes, there was “a whole wall of people there. There’s the bully, the targeted and the witnesses, and they stood by.” It’s great to see an iconic bully like Zabka use his infamy to promote a healthy message.
Understanding that bullies aren’t pure evil, but often victims themselves (something this Key and Peele skit also does fantastically) is incredibly important. Zabka also mentions that Johnny is “set free a little bit” at the end when he realizes the truth about Kreese and hands Daniel the trophy” in an act of sportsmanship. What do you think of Zabka’s speech?
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