America the Beautiful - 5 out of 5
No, this isn't the latest Tobey Kieth DVD. America the Beautiful is a 2007 documentary the focuses on the way we, the people, are programmed by the media to pursue the impossible dream of the media-created and defined definition of beauty. It focuses on the assault our visual senses receive on a daily basis on what a woman is suppose to look like, dress like and live up to. Now, I'm an ugly guy--Women have told me that I'm unattractive, at best. There was once a girl I cared about who told me she would only sleep with me if I lost 50 pounds--mind you, she wasn't thin herself. Well, long story short, I didn't lose the weight and we never had sex but it turns out she has herpes, so I won (sadly, that isn't a joke). Women have told me that I don't even have a face for radio and the woman I lost my virginity to told me that she contemplated suicide after the fact (sadly, that isn't a joke either). So, naturally being told that I'm monstrously unattractive (seriously, she called me that but at least it gave me the cool nickname of Ronster the Monster) I see beauty in all things. I've always lived by the idea that all women are beautiful in their own way. Beauty truly is in the Eye of the Beholder but we forget that and we let the media dictate to us what beauty consists of. This outlook alone is enough reason for me to watch this movie...also, I really like documentaries.
Director Darryl Roberts, who spent five years of his life making this doc and admitted at the beginning that he lost the love of his life because he believed he would find someone better due to the unreal expectations he had in his life from a lifetime of propaganda from the media, brings forth a fantastic film that, quite solidly shows, how the female persuasion is impacted by what we see in print ads and television. He shows off a 12 year old girl who is thrown into the world of modelling and is nearly forced to act, look and dress beyond her years and just plain beyond how ANYONE should dress (seriously, have you ever seen a fashion show? Who the fuck dresses like that?) Roberts talks to plastic surgeons on how women drive to look how they believe they are suppose to look. He talks to victims of eating disorders who throw themselves into a downwards spiral in order to achieve something that just doesn't need to be achieved. He even talks to men who fully support these unrealistic views as they put beauty and body image above such things as common interest and personality in a relationship.
Seriously, this girl was only 12 when the documentary was made. If that isn't "WTF" worthy, I don't know what is.
This documentary actually hit pretty close to home because I, myself, have spent my entire life being rejected for my appearance. Not only do women completely ignore the fact that I'm a funny, witty and smart, caring dude who can also cook and clean but my appearance affects other elements in my existence. Believe it or not, being overweight and not having the attractive face that the media tells the world I'm suppose to have in order to be a worthwhile element to the puzzle called life has actually made me not be considered for jobs. Literally my entire life has been a struggle to overcome the fact that I don't meet what the media says men should be: A wallet, six pack abs and great cheek bones. And it's this fact that bothered me about the documentary. The fact that men also have to suffer a similar dilemma. I understand that women suffer from it more but a segment could have also been shown on the film about how, even though these women try to live up to something they can't live up to, they hold the men in their lives to the same unrealistic expectations.
Director Darryl Roberts.
Documentaries are always difficult movies to review or discuss because you either already agree with the filmmaker's perspective or you don't. Sure sometimes they can be convincing enough to make people change their viewpoints but the reality is, like the man making the film, you already have your stance and you'll use the doc to either support or deny your beliefs.
You also can't really look at a documentary from a technical standpoint. You can't claim the lightning was terrible because, unless it's an interview within the doc, most camera work is done on the spot, showing the events happening. You also can't complain about the cast or acting because they're real people. Sure you can cry foul on the "experts" the docs may get or wonder if the people that are being interviewed are really good for the argument.
Documentaries stand on their own when it comes to viewing and REviewing. Roberts stays away from flashy animations that many docs like to show off and the film doesn't have a superstar narrator over high-definition B-role like in some bigger budget affairs. America the Beautiful is a bare-bones, no nonsense documentary showing off how the media has an impact on women's lives. While I wish I could have seen more depth and even seen how the media has a similar effect on men, I stand firm that Roberts made an intriguing and deep documentary.
Other than my small complaint and the fact that Roberts isn't the best narrator, the film is excellent and one of those documentaries that everyone should watch. However, as the documentary will show (and my life has shown) that even though we, as a society, are completely aware of how the media demands that we live outside of ourselves and try to be someone we are not, we refuse to fully accept it and try to improve on it. So, maybe watching this documentary won't do anything for anyone because we are all, collectively, in denial.