I don’t know if you lot have been watching trashy T.V recently, but I’ve seen this advert floating about for a new series on MTV called ‘Catfish’ and the advert is going on the basis of everyone having knowledge of/already seen the documentary of the same title released in 2010. I hadn’t heard of it and decided to have a gander; here is the basic plot for anyone who has no idea what I am gabbing on about.
Catfish is a documentary directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, it follows the life of Ariel’s brother, Yaniv who develops an online friendship with an eight year old girl, an extremely talented artist called, Abby. By becoming Abby’s friend on Facebook, Yaniv now has access to a network of friends and family, which includes Abby’s attractive half sister, Megan.
Predictable plot twists and monotonous conversations aside, I have a problem with Catfish, I don’t think it’s real.
I found Yaniv’s predicament of questioning an online relationship exasperating, if potential employers are able to use social media and search engines to background check, then you would assume that three young, tech savvy guys are able to figure that something fishy is going on. (Fish related quip) Yaniv then decides to run around the U.S of A like Captain Ahab chasing his white whale, which he most certainly gets.
This documentary is as sceptical as the contents of Tesco burgers – and, speaking of burgers – Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me) has allegedly stated that Catfish is the best fake documentary he had ever seen.
What takes the Sea-Biscuit for me is that Ariel and Henry went on to co-direct Paranormal Activity 3, a major ‘found footage’ horror franchise.
Nevertheless, there is a ‘real’ documentary released in 2009 covering the same ground, Talhotblond.
This enthralling true story of an online love triangle results in deception and murder. The narration is a beyond the grave tale of, Brian Barret who was murdered by his co-worker, Thomas Montgomery because they both had an online love affair with Jessica Shieler AKA talhotblond.
This is a compelling piece of filming, although director, Barbara Shroeder manipulates the narration of Barret to lay blame on particular people, that is the whole hook of documentary filming.
It does, however, offer an objective account of a factual murder case based entirely within a fictional online world. A world where people can deceive and manipulate emotions.
The clever placement of clips, online screen grabs and testimonies, leaves the viewer with a feeling of shock, remorse and anger. The blatantly obvious twists that Catfish offers is nothing compared to the unthinkable madness that ensues in the online fantasies of Talhotblond.
Although both arguably of the documentary genre there is only one true champion of these common themed accounts, Talhotblond is a riveting and educational tale of how ‘everybody lies online’ but isn’t afraid to show the devastating outcomes of escapism. As far as Catfish is concerned – it is worth a watch but there are plenty more fish in the sea.
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