Why I like Documentaries

Some people may wonder why it is that I keep watching documentaries. It’s true; documentaries just are not as popular as the regular Hollywood fare, perhaps it’s because they aren’t speckled with Pitt’s, Goslings, Aniston’s and Jolie’s, which is actually kind of a shame. I don’t mean it’s a shame that they aren’t in a documentary, and I’m sure they have been/will be at some point. The shame is that we are so often pulled into movies simply to watch these big names flit about, and lately I’ve been kind of disappointed in them. I’m not calling out the actors I listed specifically either, since I do generally like them. I just happen to know who these ones are. So, feel free to substitute their names for whoever is actually popular and new right now.

Critics rave about this new movie or that new movie, but a lot of what I’m seeing is…well…*cough* boring. I’ve actually seen, or read, a lot of the stories they are coming up with now before, in some rendition or another, and the concepts and stories all seemed better the first time around. I’ve seen more movies with stacked casts in the past five years that have plodded on to be about nothing then I care to shake a stick at (My cats might enjoy that, but I digress). There are only so many times I can do the same plot, or no plot, before I get a serious case of the why-bothers. The space on my wrist starts calling to my eyes to check the time and I don’t even wear a watch any more. Ironic that I think documentaries are the answer, I guess.

And yet, they are! Well, I think so. Why? In these mostly true stories you get to meet real people, and real people have this thing about being unique. Non-Hollywood faces and unscripted interviews in film add a level of contrast that makes stories about nothing implicitly more interesting. Yet, I think for most documentaries, because of the bad rap they have for being the ugly backwoods cousin at the film parties, they often try harder to entertain you/move you/teach you. They don’t have a movie star (usually) in them for people to stare at, so, they have to actually do something.

A while ago I had a family member tell me that they don’t watch documentaries. I was a bit flabbergasted. Sadly, this attitude seems kind of common for these films. The stigma of the documentary is that they suck. I’m not sure if it is school documentaries that start this ball rolling or what, but like classical music is to pop music, there just isn’t really a fan base that seems to vocally give a crap.

That’s why I feel that I must give a crap (and crap is actually rather cheap this time of year). I will take these wallflower films out onto the dance floor of the internet and shake things up a bit. I don’t really care if I was interested in a subject before I watch them, or what awards they’ve won, or anything else. They’re with me now, I’m taking them to the prom (aka home from the library) and we’re gonna have a good time. Maybe once I get to know them I can introduce them to someone new. Maybe even someone like you.

You see, I don’t care if they happen to be a bit unpolished, or low budget, or biased, because I can always go to the library, or online, and find one that is of the exact opposite opinion, or even duh dum dah!…pause for dramatic effect…research them myself. I do that. I know. It’s kind of weird.

I’m a bit obsessive about the truth that way. I think that truth is often objective, and can sometimes depend on your personal circumstances and a whole ball of other varying factors. This might not be a popular opinion, particularly to the no-shades-of-gray crowd (no, I’m not referring to fans of that book). See, I sometimes think that my whole world is gray and we are often equally right and wrong for various reasons. Everytime I think I’ve finally found the answer to something, another layer of the onion falls away and some new angle pops up that changes everything. So, in my quest for the truth, I want to hear lots of different opinions, about lots of different things, because only then can you get enough perspective to actually, maybe, know what the bleep (also an interesting documentary) you are talking about.

So, in the spirit of the current nerd revolution, where it seems almost everyone who is intelligent now identifies with the freaks and the geeks, of which I proudly and fondly count myself, I hold my documentary filled head up high! These unpopular and often picked on Frankenstein’s monsters of film are simply misunderstood! And since you don’t look like the torch waving type, and you came here all on your lonesome, without the restless mob, let me introduce you to my friends here. You may just be surprised at what you see.