I cringe every time I here the phrase, “I learned in a documentary…” and then someone tries to teach me something they learned in a documentary. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE a good documentary and watch them all the time. We just watch one on North Korea the other day that turned my blood cold.
The reason I lurch when I hear someone quote a documentary is that most documentaries are propaganda based. That doesn’t mean they are inaccurate necessarily, it just means for the most part they are agenda driven. Most documentaries do have a lot of good, reliable and repeatable information in them. I just cringe when I hear people quote a documentary as social or scientific doctrine knowing they haven’t done any farther research on the topic.
For example…and Dan will roll his eyes on this one…we watched a docu a while back called “The Business of Being Born”. It presented horrific statistics on the ‘abysmal’ process of having a baby in a hospital with ‘evil’ doctor intervention. After the movie I went and looked up a majority of their stats. Most were taken out of context, needed further research, or were just plain not true. Then I found out the movie was made primarily by a group midwives and Riki Lake. This review kinda sums up what I thought about it.
The problem is I hear people quote the movie and I know they haven’t done any external research on it. And that’s the overlying problem I see with the way documentaries are digested. The material in the movies is fine, but pretty much every documentary is made by a group or person pushing a cause or trying to change the way we think, for good or for bad.
I hear people tell me that plastic water bottles are the devil because of a docu they saw. or that eating meat after 8 pm will give me colon cancer, or that every frozen turkey in the store was once a miserable and abused bird in a butcher factory. These things may be true but farther research needs to be done by the individuals who watch the movies before internalize and evangelizing the information.