Chris and I try to watch a lot of documentaries whenever the mood strikes, because it’s definitely a genre I have to be REALLY in the mood for. I’ve seen quite a few over the years so I’m sure that some slipped my mind, but these are the top six that I’ve enjoyed – a few more recently and some from my college days.
My Scientology Movie
Anything involving Scientology will make it onto my watch list. I’m fascinated by this religion because it seems too crazy to be true. There are so many issues ingrained in this “cult,” from physical abuse from higher-ups to not allowing people to see family members. I can’t imagine getting sucked into something like this and I love hearing stories of people escaping. This movie was definitely an interesting look into the religion. The creator pretty much stopped at nothing to get interviews and try to figure out what the deal is with Scientology. Related recommendation: Leah Remini’s show about Scientology. Fascinating stuff!
Dumb: The Story of Big Brother Magazine
I’ve always been a fan of Jackass, Viva La Bam, and everyone associated with both shows. They’re crazy and stupid but always entertaining for me. I was obsessed with Bam Margera when I was younger and loved watching him skateboard. Enter my boyfriend, a skateboarder, and I’ve started paying even more attention to these people and skateboarding. It’s a fascinating hobby and culture. This documentary dives into Big Brother magazine, which was one of the craziest skateboarding magazines ever. It led to the creation of Jackass and brought so many skateboarders to the forefront. Really interesting if you’re into that kind of thing!
Does anyone remember this guy? There was a viral video a long time ago with this guy who was doing a Winnebago commercial and went sort of crazy during the process. There were a lot of hilarious quotes throughout (“I don’t want any more bullshit anytime during the day, from anyone. That includes me!”) and the guy got increasingly angry about his lines/the whole process. There was a documentary made about this guy now – what he’s up to, his reaction to the fleeting fame he achieved, and general conversations about the video.
Netflix put out this mini documentary (it’s 40 minutes long) and it was so fascinating. This man was accused of murder (that he didn’t commit) and his alibi was that he was at a Dodgers game. There’s usually no way of tracking that kind of thing because ticket stubs don’t prove much, but it just so happened that a famous TV show was filming that night… in his exact section of seats. The entire time you’re watching, you’re thinking “what if?” because if ANY element of this day had been different, Juan’s fate would have been changed forever. There are so many different factors at play and it was so crazy to see them unfold.
Time to toss in a few feminist recommendations! This documentary was shown during my Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class during college, which is what kicked off me realizing that I was (and should be) a feminist. It examines advertising and popular culture to see how women are treated, and what that reflects about society overall. As a marketing student and feminist, it was eye-opening for me. I’ve watched this one more than once (which usually doesn’t happen with documentaries) so that’s saying a lot. If you’re the kind of person who is unsure about feminism or the impact of advertising/media on women… you must watch this.
Now, on the flipside, is another feminist documentary from that class. It’s an older one for sure but the principles are still true. Women aren’t the only ones given strict expectations in the media and daily life; men are also told to act a certain way based on popular culture, movies, media, etc. This movie examines this “tough guise” (one of the most clever pun titles ever) that men have to put on in order to be seen as “real men.” Again, a fascinating look at the media and its effects on everyone. I highly recommend an afternoon movie marathon of Miss Representation followed by Tough Guise to get a well-rounded view of the subject.