I watch too many documentaries, that’s for sure

So I’ve mentioned about how I watch a lot of Netflix in my life as a stay-at-home… Right? I have mentioned that, right? Anyway, I’ve shifted from obsessively watching everything Joss Whedon was involved in to watching not-that-great television (oh Gossip Girl, you make me ashamed) to watching random hit-or-miss movies to watching documentaries. I do this while working on art projects (and, who am I kidding, blogging), and I’ve learned that having a consistent Hum of Interesting Noise in the background is key to me actually being productive.

Monday morning I spent finishing up the last touches for The Loneliest Mustache (have you checked it out? because, um, shameless plug–you should totally go read it) and put on a documentary that I had been meaning to watch for a while. It was amazing and opened up a rabbit hole of Netflix recommendations. I figured after five documentaries in two days, it was probably time for a recap. And, you know, nothing screams Blog Fodder like a document-a-thon recap.

Art Is Embarrassing
This movie follows the career and life of Wayne White. If you haven’t heard of him before, don’t worry about. It means you’re not a hipster. For the record, I had no clue who he was before watching the documentary, and by the end, I would willingly trade lives with him. He’s an artist in the truest, most organic sense of the word. He essentially plays for a living, which is super cool. He was a huge part of the set for Pee Wee’s Playhouse and more recently is known for some awesome typography paintings on top of thrifted sceneries. I walked away (figuratively, since I am a couch potato) from this film feeling not just inspired to make art, but inspired to follow the inner tuggings of my imagination. All in all, that’s a good feeling to end on.

Monica & David
This documentary follows a young couple who’s getting married. It sounds like a simple and unconventional premise, with the exception that they both have Down syndrome. The whole piece was done with a pretty small budget, but it is very respectful and interesting. I know that, as an outsider to the world of disabilities, oftentimes it can feel like an entirely separate and unapproachable world. Fears of saying the wrong thing, of unintentionally being insensitive–the list goes on. For the record, I think it’s totally valid to have these fears and I also think it’s the responsibility of a compassionate citizen to get over those fears and treat other people with respect and dignity. That being said, I think this documentary is great in that it serves to explain and demystify a segment of the population–people with Down syndrome–that I don’t come into contact with on a regular basis.

Loving Lampposts
This is probably my all-time new favorite documentary. From a purely journalistic, scholarly perspective, it was done so well. The film documents the history of autism–not specifically people with autism, although they play a large role in the film. Like I mentioned in my summary of Monica & David, it gives a lot of insight into what it means to be autism. My favorite quote from the movie “There’s a saying in the world of autism–once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” It covers elements like the vaccine debate and the long line of “cures” for autism in a way that is completely respectful to both sides, and it’s done in a way that really lets the readers draw their own conclusions. I mean, I say that even though I feel like the debate is settled with one side the clear victor, so maybe that’s my own biases feeding into it. Whereas I feel like a lot of documentary directors relying on adding text to the bottom to supplement whatever the film is portraying, there was none of that in Loving Lampposts–it really was about asking people questions and listening to their answers. It is to the director’s credit that he asked some really poignant questions.

Somewhere Between
This documentary follows several girls who were adopted from China into American families. It wasn’t my favorite documentary, but the parts of it that I liked, I absolutely loved. Most of this documentary didn’t seem all that hard-hitting. Turns out, some adopted kids are really interested in their roots, and others aren’t. Some are interested in the countries they come from, some aren’t. Some are at peace with the families that gave them up, and some aren’t. Some don’t feel that being adopted has influenced their personality all that much, and others have. In summation–different people respond to similar situations differently. There is a very glaring and yet invisible bias among all the girls portrayed, and that is to be involved in this kind of project, you have to be outspoken about your adopted roots. And that, if you are outspoken about being adopted, odds are you’re interested in exploring those roots. Like I said, not that ground-breaking. It was very well done, though, and I don’t regret watching it at all.

This Is What Love In Action Looks Like
Oh man. Oh man oh man oh man. Where do I even start? I’ll totally admit that my coming out experience was deeply rooted in the film But I’m A Cheerleader, since one line in that film clued me into my own sexual preferences. Did not realize those camps are a real thing. If you’re a person who believes in loving and respecting all people regardless of their sexual preferences or gender identity, then this movie is guaranteed to make your blood boil. Also? It’s a documentary that’s based a religious camp, and so it features of lot of Christians. I think that, from the standpoint of the documentary maker, that’s a good thing. Hearing a Christian-based backlash to a Christian-based hate camp is a good thing. That being said, I’m not a Christian. So a documentary with most of the interviewees talking about their journey to find Christ despite being gay isn’t really high on my interest level. The best part of the movie, and the part that I wish I WISH they had gone further with, is the camp director’s experience. His was my favorite storyline, because it spoke the most clearly to the possibility of redemption.

Alright, well that was a good 1k words for you to ponder over. How about you guys? Any documentaries that I should add to my Netflix cue?

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2 thoughts on “I watch too many documentaries, that’s for sure

  1. I’ve been really into watching food documentaries like food matters, food inc. and ingredients since there’s such a good amount of them on Netflix! I also love anything about human evolution (I don’t know??) but I’m looking to expand my to-watch documentary list. Maybe I’ll watch some of these!

    • Oh my sister just watched Hungry for Change, which she found interesting enough to pass along a recommendation for. What’s a title for a human evolution documentary? That sounds like it’d be super interesting!

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