Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mockumentary vs. Documentary

In the past 6 months I have watched more documentaries than in my previous life combined. With my great love of Mockumentaries like The Office, Parks and Rec., Arrested Development, etc, I suppose the taste continues to their real counterparts - documentaries.

Netflix has an AWESOME collection of documentaries and I watch them for both business and pleasure. For history teachers, documentaries are gold. When a new unit is coming up, I watch documentaries to brush up on information and to look for potential documentaries that I'd like to show my students. Ryan and I also watch documentaries for fun pretty regularly.

Here are some suggestions and warnings for you:

Loved (fun):

It Might Get Loud - a rock-n-roll documentary (think real Spinal Tap, with less humor) that is pretty awesome. Watching Jack White play makeshift instruments is absolutely mesmerizing. Definitely worth a watch.

Exit Through the Gift Shop - ok, we haven't ACTUALLY watched this one. It's been in our queue for ages, and we really will get around to it. But I've heard great things from multiple sources and can't wait to watch it.

Loved (to learn):

National Geographic: Stress, Portrait of a Killer - super enlightening documentary about what stress does to our bodies and the change in stressors since primitive times. Really cool.

Project XX - these period-specific documentaries are awesome. I showed some of "The Great War" edition in class. They include real footage, cultural elements and actually HELPFUL commentary. They don't even feel like a dry, educational documentary.

Waiting for Superman - this documentary chronicling the *failure* of the public school system in the US is so frustrating. As a teacher I can definitely sympathize. Our system is a bit of a mess. There are issues to be dealt with. But the spend far more time criticizing bad teachers and districts, very little time on good teachers and districts, and absolutely no time at all speculating about possible alternatives. In the end, you're left with this empty-handed discontent. What was the point of that?

Bowling for Columbine - after the recent Ohio school shooting I decided to watch this famous Michael Moore piece. I didn't even finish it. I can't stand the guy. I get his style. I get the drama. School shootings and violence are a problem. But this is sensationalist, muckracking, yellow journalism. Again, the only positive outlook is when he compares the awful United States to more successful, less violent nations, showing that it IS in fact possible to be peaceful. If you're not going to make this for a positive reason, shut the front door. I don't want it.

What about y'all? Agree? Disagree? Suggestions? I'd love to hear some more that I should look up.


  1. Exit through the gift shop is FANTASTIC!!!!!! I absolutely loved this one! It was my first documentary and one that made me interested in watching more. Watch it!!

    1. Ok good! Can't wait. We're gonna watch it this weekend. :)

  2. Omg. I posted a comment. A long one. Where is it? Weird. Ugh. I listed so many documentaries. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead was a really really good one we watched. Loved it. I hope you get my other comment. I'm gonna resay everything I did on that one. David and I have been into documentaries too. We've watched a lot on birth. So when that time comes... check those out! (The Business of Being Born especially!) And other food ones we liked were Food Inc, and Forks Over Knives. We also liked one on Pearl Jam. Real good.