Documentary Review Part 1

One of the goals for my Day Zero Challenge was to watch 10 documentaries.  I enjoy getting an informational glimpse into the lives of others and usually learn a thing or two in the process.  {And, let’s face it, it’s much faster than reading a book! ;-)}  Here are my reviews of two that I’ve watched so far.

1. Jesus Camp

“This riveting (and alarming) documentary about the training of children to fight in “God’s army” for the charismatic/evangelical arm of Christian fundamentalism focuses on Kids on Fire, a religious summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D.”

{My rating: 5 of 5}

Ms. Fischer, the woman that runs the Kids on Fire camp understands that indoctrination of children when they are most impressionable (under 13 and preferably between 7 and 9) with evangelical dogma is the key to her movement’s future growth.  She goes as far as comparing her kids to militant Palestinian training camps that instill aggressive Islamist fundamentalism. 

The majority of the children at the camp are home-schooled and are taught from a young age that Jesus is only present in evangelical churches where people jump, shout, weep and speak in tongues.  Some of the shocking scenes in the movie include young children in camo and face paint practicing war dances to Christian heavy metal music, weeping for no reason that a child would understand, and speaking in tongues.  A cult-like atmosphere was present throughout the piece.  There is no denying that they are being brainwashed by the majority of adults in their lives. 

While I do not believe that all of the people in this religious sect are out to start a culture war and brainwash their children, I found the movie to be very informative of what some people consider to be Christianity and godly living.  The movie was authentic since they were speaking and acting as they would in everyday life; they were proud to be an example for others who would watch this documentary.  I’m sure they never realized the majority who saw it would think they were insane.  In my opinion, this movie is a must see.

2. This Film is Not Yet Rated 

“Kirby Dick, with the help of a private detective, investigates the mysterious workings of the MPAA, a highly secretive, deeply irrational organization with enormous influence over what we see — and don’t see — on movie screens.”

{My rating: 3 of 5}

The MPAA was founded by major Hollywood studios in order to stave off any attempts at government censorship and is the organization that devised and administers the current movie rating system.  What is most interesting about the movie is just how shady the members of the organization are.  The MPAA has their own criteria that each member of the board be between certain ages and only hold the position for a few years; in reality, most of the members do not meet either of these standards.  Members of the MPAA and the appeals board are also not supposed be involved directly with positions of leadership in government and religion, but oddly enough many of them are members of the clergy and have stakes in politics.

Another aspect of the documentary was the necessity of film makers to conform to the standards of the MPAA.  They are allowed to release their films as “Not Yet Rated” but statistics have shown that you may as well throw the movie down the drain because the movie will not receive much exposure from the theatres or press.  The MPAA will respond to the filmmaker with things to change and/or cut from the film in order to get the rating it desires.  I will not even go into the discrepancies the board shows from one film to another based on board member personal preference.

Overall, the information presented was great, but I felt that the movie dragged on a bit.  There was a lot of fluff that could have been edited out.  There were also questions left unanswered since the organization is kept so tightly underwraps, which was one of the points the documentary wanted to portray, but it still left me wondering.  I would recommend perhaps reading a few articles about the controversy associated with the MPAA over watching the movie. 

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