I readily admit that I have a documentary addiction. A documentary is always my go-to for a night in front of the TV. I find myself constantly recommending documentaries to friends as information I learned comes up in conversation. I have an endless list of documentaries I've watched or want to watch or want to re-watch, so I figured this was a good way to start sharing some of the must-sees with people.
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE
This is available to watch through Netflix. It has come to mind a lot for me recently in all the hype of Netflix's relatively new true-crime series "Making A Murderer.” Making A Murderer is certainly worth watching if you are interested not so much in true crime but in systematic injustices. I recommend watching The Central Park Five to get a taste for if this sort of documentary is for you before investing the hours required for binge watching Making A Murderer.
When I watched Central Park Five, I found myself needing to watch it in two separate sittings as I was getting too infuriated with the justice system (specifically police officers) to sit through the whole thing. The documentary follows the story of the group of NY black male teens that in the mid 80s were wrongfully convicted of the brutal attack of a white woman in central park. Essentially the only evidence against these boys was their video taped confessions, which are heart wrenching to watch as all I see are young scared boys being intimidated by authority and simply doing as they've been instructed. Everything surrounding the circumstances of their arrests and imprisonment and even their eventual releases makes my stomach churn at the whole system and the way the media is involved. It's definitely worth watching, if you don't mind feeling disgusted at our society for a little while.
WALK TO SCHOOL
This is available on Netflix and might be one of my favorite documentaries. It is visually beautiful and is much more what I would call an experiential rather than narrative documentary. It follows children from around the world on their daily routine and journey to school.
I always get a little nostalgic when I watch things heavily featuring scenic African plains. And I got hit with waves of memories of my time in South Africa watching children wary of elephants when no baboons or other animals were present - an eerie feeling of walking into danger only humans can't sense. I also couldn't help but chuckle at the reality of how easy it is to suddenly stumble into a pack of giraffes.
I always appreciate watching a documentary that profiles very commonplace things in different areas of the world. While much of what I saw in the documentary was heart warming for me personally, I think there is a lot of value in spending a little time experiencing what "normal" is elsewhere.
In Morocco you watch the children rely heavily on hitchhiking and in India there is a striking scene of brothers dragging a homemade wheelchair through a river on their regular route to school.
This is not an ideal documentary to watch in the background while multitasking because it's so visual. So treat yourself, grab some wine and some popcorn and have a little bit of an eye feast and feel slightly humbled in all our privilege.
This is on Netflix and yes, I know your initial reaction is to laugh - as was mine. But this documentary is totally worth watching. And it also sort of makes me want to watch "My Little Pony." This documentary does a great job juxtaposing "Bronie" news media and public opinions with actual "Bronie" interviews.
Essentially, the Bronie community is all about being kind and curious. The lessons in "My Little Pony" are perhaps intended for young girls, but they are being applied in this community of young men. Because as one Bronie said, "Watching girl characters do awesome things is just as awesome as watching boy characters do awesome things."
I think it's wonderful - I can't imagine what it feels like to be a teen boy, but I think it's incredibly sad that our society looks down on young men who are embracing basic principles of how to be a compassionate human being. I think it's great that this fandom community has developed to give these men a supportive, loving community. In addition I learned that charity is a huge part of the community. Really, it's all just about being "a good friend."