More documentaries are fake, and the audience doesn’t care
Screenrant’s Christian Toto notes that the now-apparent fake documentary Casey Affleck/Joaquin Phoenix film “I’m Not Here” has only brought in $250,000 in box office in the first two weeks.
Toto worries, though, that we’re in for more of this stuff.
That doesn’t mean this film genre of one is dead. After all, just look at the killing reality shows make on television. Surely, someone out there is thinking of bringing the format – supposedly real situations twisted like pretzels into dramas and comedies – to the big screen. It could appeal to studios for the same reasons it does for TV suits. They’re cheap and the return on investment is occasionally huge.
Boob tube watchers don’t seem to care if The Hills or those Osbourne exploits are real or tweaked by a team of writers.
What seems obvious is that the conventions of documentaries – that they actually be real – no longer seems unassailable. The form seems in for a death-by-a-thousand-cuts shift as filmmakers who cannot afford production value simply use the raw, cheap look that fake-docs are drawn to and muddy the middle. Films like “Catfish,” good or bad, are very much the product of a Facebook generation that spends more time photographing themselves from arm’s length than actually turning the camera on what’s interesting the world. Even “Exit Through The Gift Shop,” the Banksy film, is less a cousin of “Grey Gardens” and more of one to all those teenage boys who set up cameras pointing at themselves as they do lame skateboard tricks.
If a generation of reality-show conditioned viewers stop caring what’s made up and what’s not, the verb “to document” loses its meaning. As Toto notes,
All it will take is one faux documentary like I’m Still Here to strike the zeitgeist and the floodgates will open. Here’s hoping film producers think twice – if not more – before going down the Phoenix trail.