Being out of action for the last few days left me with some time on my hands. I took the time to check out some documentaries I’ve been interested in watching.
The Internet’s Own Boy
The Internet’s Own Boy is about the life and death of a young IT prodigy by the name of Aaron Swartz. Aaron believed that knowledge should be free and a program he wrote resulted in the US government taking notice of his activities. Even though many people believed his activities were not criminal in nature, the US government decided to make an example out of him, and were trying to put him in prison for at least 30 years. The pressure was too much for him to take, and Aaron committed suicide on January 11, 2013.
The documentary is a very intellectual, but also emotional experience. It explores the ideas and projects that were important to Aaron, and the things he achieved during his lifetime. The film also looks at Aaron as a person through the people who knew him, be they family, work associates, or lovers. Despite the focus of the film, it still manages to maintain some degree of objectivity. A former lawyer is brought in to discuss the case near the end of the documentary and he explains briefly how the US government actually had a legal leg to stand on. Whether they over-reacted or not, that’s for you to decide.
The Internet’s Own Boy is a great documentary that looks at some very important issues around censorship, knowledge, and capitalism, and the impact they have on our society in the digital age. This film is a a must watch for EVERYONE. And EVERYONE can watch it, because it’s 100% free.
Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony
Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony has two main story threads, one involving Bronycon in the US, and the other, a Brony convention in the UK. In these main stories, two fans are trying to get to each respective convention. There’s a few other supporting stories involving a brony musician, a brony laser show artist, and a brony who lives in a tiny American town filled with conservative rednecks. The documentary looks at their lives and how the brony culture has affected them, as well as chatting to the people involved in making the show.
I personally found the documentary quite engaging (I’ve always been an outsider, so I totally empathise with these guys), even if it does have a few minor problems, and even if there are moments where I was going “ok, you lost me a bit there”.
It does tend to focus on the most “stereotypical” types of people you’d find in these kinds of communities but I feel there is a fairly logical reason to this. Imagine how boring the film would be if they followed regular (more normal) Bronies around. They would go to school, not get teased, hang out with their friends, play some video games, watch some MLP. There would be absolutely zero tension, which would make the film very boring. The film is more interesting because it (mostly) follows the guys who have the greatest struggle in the community.
The other issue is that it doesn’t look at the “darker” side of the community, which is basically all the My Little Pony porn. Well guys, I don’t know if you’ve heard about this thing called Rule 34. Basically, if it exists, there’s porn of it on the internet. Also, other subcultures which have huge pornographic subcultures within them (for example anime and comics) are allowed to celebrate aspects of their subculture without going into the pornographic parts, why aren’t Bronies allowed to do the same? From what I can tell, the show teaches a lot of positive values and brings people together, so what’s the problem with celebrating that?
I don’t see why so many people rant on the internet about how much they hate Bronies. Really guys, I don’t know about you, but I have better things to do with my time than rant on the internet about how X subculture is weird and should disappear. Unless Bronies are knocking on your door and asking you “Have you watched My Little Pony today?”, or they’re breaking into your stables because they want to have sex with your horses, you really should just leave them alone. And if you’re a parent ranting about how Bronies are bad because your little girl saw some dirty MLP cartoon porn because safe search was off, here’s a suggestion: type in almost any cartoon ever into Google images, disable Safesearch and click the Search button.
I dare you.
So with that rant out of the way, I don’t think that this film will appeal to everyone, and even I have to admit there were some moments where I just couldn’t help but cringe. However, if you like things that are different, or (to quote a line from the film) don’t follow the herd, you should probably check it out.
Please Subscribe is a documentary that looks at the lives of young people who (often accidentally) started making a living releasing videos on Youtube.
Please Subscribe was enjoyable, even if it didn’t have much tension. It was great to get a look into the daily lives of some reasonably successful Youtube celebrities, and to hear about how they got there. Even if you’re not into the Youtube “scene”, it still has enough going for it that most people would enjoy it.
The only problem I had with the film was a personal one. None of the people interviewed could tell you why they got successful. They talked around what they were doing at the time. Maybe point to a few videos that got them noticed. One guy talked about how he failed catastrophically and how it impacted on him mentally. But at the end of the day, they shrugged their shoulders and said “I have no idea how I got noticed.”
Sigh. Getting told online success is a roll of the dice is not something I want to hear right now…
If you are in a specific country (I’m guessing the US) you can watch it for free on Youtube. The link is available here.