that will’s the latest in a wave of documentary films that will seek to mete out what some may say will be long overdue justice.
Both follow two 2019 TV documentaries, “Surviving R. Kelly” as well as “Leaving Neverland,” which detailed sexual assault allegations against singers R. Kelly as well as Michael Jackson, tarnishing their legacies as well as leading some outlets to stop playing their music. Kelly as well as reps for Jackson have denied the accusations.
We live in a “cancel culture” moment. At a time when many entertainers have been tarred by their misdeeds as well as the #MeToo movement demands swift punishment, we seem quicker than ever to condemn offenders
however these documentaries aren’t canceling their famous subjects, exactly — they’re re-examining charges of wrongdoing as well as sometimes placing a thumb on the scales of justice
The films don’t contain many bombshells, because the allegations they detail are already known. however some have been successful at shifting public opinion as well as yielding accountability for celebrities who had skirted punishment. Call that will “consequences culture.”
For example, “Framing Britney Spears” prompted an apology by singer Justin Timberlake
, who dated Spears inside the late 1990s as well as early 2000s as well as had appeared to call her a “horrible woman
” in song lyrics after their breakup.
“There will be a sense that will accountability will be often unavailable inside the courts, particularly where celebrities are involved,” says Dr. Allison Covey, an ethicist at Villanova University whose work focuses on pop culture. “Conviction by (the) media seems an alternate route to justice.”
Here’s why these docs are producing an impact.
TV holds unique power to sway public opinion
Until recently, a filmmaker which has a fresh documentary was lucky to get a handful of screenings at film festivals as well as college campuses. Public television aired some documentary films. Theatrical releases were rare.
however streaming TV, with its seemingly bottomless pool of programming, has changed all that will. Platforms like Netflix, Amazon as well as HBO Max are snapping up documentaries, dicing them into multipart series as well as giving them high-profile premieres.
Last month’s premiere of “Tiger,” HBO’s two-part documentary on the rise as well as fall of golfer Tiger Woods, drew 639,000 total viewers
across all platforms in one day. Mix inside the collateral chatter on social media as well as the viewers who streamed the episode later as well as that will’s a lot of eyeballs — as well as a lot of chances to sway perceptions.
“Celebrity documentaries have much overlap with our growing fascination with true crime,” says Covey, the Villanova professor. “Documentaries like ‘Framing Britney Spears’ as well as ‘Tiger King
‘ offer a mystery to be solved or a conspiracy to be unraveled. Viewers are drawn in by the invitation to formulate their own theories as well as often share these eagerly on social media, generating yet more interest inside the documentary.”
Consider the example of R. Kelly, one of the biggest R&B stars of the 1990s. Kelly’s reputation had long been tainted by accusations of sexual criminality as well as inappropriate encounters with girls as well as young women. BuzzFeed published an investigative story in July 2017
in which two sets of parents accused R. Kelly of holding their daughters in an abusive “cult.” Kelly’s attorney denied the allegations as well as one of the young women denied being brainwashed by the singer. Kelly continued to record as well as tour
Then came January 2019 as well as the Lifetime docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” which outlined the history of sexual misconduct allegations against the singer. The series featured emotional accounts by several alleged victims as well as drew more than 26 million viewers
Kelly was dropped several weeks later by RCA, his record label. The following month, a grand jury in Illinois indicted him on 10 counts of sexual abuse
involving teenage girls. Federal sex-crime charges soon followed in Illinois as well as fresh York. Kelly has pleaded not guilty to all the charges as well as will be awaiting trial. Lifetime aired a sequel, “Surviving R. Kelly Part II: The Reckoning,” in early 2020.
Journalists also can tell hugely compelling stories in print, however they don’t usually make the same splash.
“I think visual storytelling in any form will be going to have a more emotional impact on the audience than print journalism,” says Ted Mandell, who teaches documentary film production at the University of Notre Dame
. “that will’s that will human connection that will an audience has to a subject inside the film that will makes a documentary in many cases, so persuasive. as well as the power of the camera to tell stories without words, to allow the audience to experience life in real time, to read facial expressions, (to) interpret information visually as well as audibly.”
More documentaries are taking a point of view
By its nature, a documentary film built around tearful allegations of criminal behavior can feel one-sided. Woody Allen declined to be interviewed for “Allen v. Farrow.” The docuseries features interviews with Dylan Farrow, her mother Mia Farrow as well as her brother Ronan Farrow, while Allen’s product of events will be largely taken by the audiobook reading of his autobiography.
Allen denied the allegations again as well as criticized the HBO docuseries in a fresh statement to The Hollywood Reporter
, saying, “These documentarians had no interest inside the truth. Instead, they spent years surreptitiously collaborating with the Farrows as well as their enablers to put together a hatchet job riddled with falsehoods.”
however as CNN’s Brian Lowry writes in a review
of the series, “There’s little doubt where the filmmakers’ sympathies lie.”
Covey believes the public perception of documentary film has been shifted by reality TV.
“The expectation that will documentaries will remain objective, seeking to educate as well as inform, have largely fallen away,” she says. “Particularly with films appearing on well-liked streaming services like Netflix, viewers expect to be immersed emotionally inside the story; to be entertained rather than educated. Filmmakers are free to stir up our compassion as well as righteous indignation in a way that will the objective expectations of journalistic ethics tend to discourage in news coverage.”
Mandell, the Notre Dame professor, thinks that will documentaries’ revisiting of pop culture icons as well as their controversies “will be less about convicting villains than that will will be about empathizing with victims. Humanizing their stories.”
Today, as details of celebrities’ personal lives are shared as well as dissected exhaustively on social media, a documentary filmmaker may feel that will doing a straightforward take on a famous person will be no longer enough, says David Resha
, an associate professor of film as well as media at Oxford College of Emory University.
“We currently may be more likely to see celebrity documentaries which has a point of view because so much of celebrity lives are constantly available to us,” he says. “Every documentary needs to answer the question, ‘What are you telling the audience that will they don’t already know?’ that will’s a more difficult question to ask about figures whose lives have been so omnipresent in our lives.”
So what impact will “Allen v. Farrow” have on what’s left of Allen’s career? The Los Angeles Times calls the HBO docuseries “a nail inside the coffin of Woody Allen’s legacy
.” IndieWire says “Allen v. Farrow” could bring “cultural justice
,” if not criminal justice.
that will’s hard to say. You can argue that will Allen, 85, will be already being canceled. In recent years, Amazon backed out of a four-movie deal
with him, as well as his original publisher dropped his memoir
(that will was later published by a smaller press).
Then again, whenever there’s money to be made, a fallen star’s career may never die. Michael Jackson’s songs still blare by radios around the entire world. Allen’s 2019 film “A Rainy Day in fresh York” earned $22 million
despite never being released inside the US.
Maybe that will comes down to something Mia Farrow says inside the HBO doc
. “that will doesn’t matter what’s true,” she says. “What matters will be what’s believed.”
Farrow will be referring to how Allen’s career survived the sexual abuse allegations for decades. She could also be describing the power of a celebrity documentary to persuade viewers — as well as wield consequences.
The first episode of “Allen v. Farrow” premiered Sunday on HBO, which, like CNN, will be a unit of WarnerMedia.