Remember in school when your teacher said you weren’t going to have a lecture and watch a movie instead. The whole class would get really excited, until you asked what you were going to watch and the horrifying words of “documentary” spilled out. The whole mood of the class shifted and you knew it was going to be a long two hours. Well in today’s world documentaries are taking over and aren’t as boring as they used to be. Since companies like Netflix have started adding documentaries to their list a viewer can now watch a pre-view on what the documentary is on as well as not having to sit through commercial after commercial.

Netflix has added a big selection on different types of documentaries to their views. Since Netflix is always changing up their content, viewers and subscribers are constantly hit with new content for their viewing pleasure. In an article called Netflix and the Documentary Boom by Sudeep Sharma, she claims “there is a better metaphor for Netflix than that of the library. The service functions more like a newsstand, offering material on a rotating basis that is continuously changing based on the availability of material (that can “expire”) and the ostensible desires of consumers” (Sharma, p.144). I agree with what Sharma is trying to say, by having content that can “expire” it keeps the audience coming back for more fresh content they haven’t seen or want to re-watch. If Netflix were considered a “library” I would say yes it does have a larger place to hold material, however, most libraries don’t spend a lot of time getting rid of older content, while constantly adding new product in.

The documentary 13th written by Ava DuVernay provides a creative twist in bring a serious issue in the United States to an audience. Compared to other fiction films, the stylistic forms of showcasing different people speaking in more of an interview process, doesn’t make the viewer feeling bored. By also showing clips of older historical pictures and videos then comparing them to other films in the media, made a great connection between, history, film, pop culture and statistics. The documentary didn’t come across as someone who was forcing certain beliefs or facts down your throat, but instead allowed for the viewer to digest what was being shown and spoke about. Before watching this documentary I personally had no idea how much of the people in prisons were of African American race, what I enjoyed the most was how DuVernay was able to relate this current issue back into slavery in earlier history.

Unlike 13th being a feature-length documentary film, long-form or multi-episode documentary series such as Making a Murderer last longer in time as well as providing more facts on the subject. In Making a Murderer, the series was about ten episodes, which were about an hour long; each episode kept the viewer with a cliffhanger of what was going to happen in the next one to come. What made the long-form documentary so engaging was, each episode showed clips of the real news coverage that was used back when the murder trails were occurring. Since this element was added, the show at times felt like a reality-based program. I had no prior knowledge about Steven Allen or the case, so by showing the different news coverage it sucked me into trying to figure out if he was truly set up by the cops or if he was really guilty. I think by adding the news coverage clips in and adding personal home video/phone calls we were able to build a better connection with the suspect. With that being said, also since the multi-episode kept us engaged an hour at a time but by having ten episodes it truly dragged us along with Steven and his journey. Just as we thought the trail would be over, another twist of events occurred which made us feel even more sympathy towards Steven, which is why this documentary was perfect.

 

 

Sudeep Sharma, “Netflix and the Documentary Boom” (pp. 143-154)

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