Audrie & Daisy
Audrie & Daisy is a Netflix Original documentary telling the all-too-familiar stories of two high school girls and their sexual assaults, both of which were caught on camera. “The documentary explores the way both the criminal justice system and society punish teenage (usually female) victims of sexual assault, sometimes blaming them for inciting sexual attack, sometimes depicting them as morally deficient, and sometimes labeling them liars. At the same time, attackers, usually male, are treated to wrist slaps and benefit-of-the-doubt leniency” (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/audrie-daisy). It follows the outcomes of Audrie and Daisy’s experiences, including the abuse and cyberbullying that them and their families were subjected to after the assaults. Audrie’s story ended tragically with her taking her own life; and while Daisy is a survivor, she still deals with the aftermath to this day. Although these events took place five years ago, the documentary made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 (https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/audrie_and_daisy/).
The entire production team of the documentary is experienced and qualified in filmmaking, appealing to the element of ethos. The director – Bonni Cohen – for example, has directed and produced an array of award-winning films at both the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals (http://www.audrieanddaisy.com/about/). Everyone who was interviewed for the documentary was involved in one way or another with the investigations, making the information relevant and personal. Audrie’s story was told from the point of view of her parents, her best friend, and the two males who sexually assaulted her. Daisy’s story is heard from the point of view of herself, her brother, and her mother. There is also footage from the police investigations of interviews with the attackers, as well as other individuals involved in the case. The appeal of pathos is strong in the film through the use of personal videos from the lives of Audrie and Daisy, as well as emotional interviews with everyone involved.
The end of the documentary appeals to logos, stating the fact that “Teenagers experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.” This indicates that the film is directed toward an audience made up of teenagers and young adults – male and female. Therefore, it is shown in many schools and universities because that is where the majority of the intended audience is found. Who actually views the documentary is not limited to just a younger demographic, though, because it is important for everyone to be aware of this issue. The documentary was created to get the story of these two girls out into the world because their experiences aren’t unique to just them. It addresses complex issues associated with sexual assault and gives the public an opportunity to talk about them and promote national discussion. Some claim that it is a story we have heard time and time again, but there is a reason for that. There has not been a change in how sexual assault is dealt with and how it is punished, therefore the issue needs to be continually presented to society in order to force that change. By no means has a solution to these issues been found yet, but the documentary sends a call to action to the audience in order to work towards a solution. Members of the production team, for example, announced that the release of the documentary would be accompanied by a robust educational and outreach campaign (http://www.audrieanddaisy.com/about/).
The majority of the reviews and ratings that Audrie & Daisy received were positive. Critics appreciated the purpose of the documentary and their work towards finding a solution to the way society addresses sexual assault. I would give it four stars out of five because it has a powerful message and clearly gets that message across to the intended audience. The missing star is for leaving the audience hanging and not elaborating on the measures that are being taken today to address the issue. But overall, I would recommend this documentary to others and if there is only one thing they take away from it, it is that “This is not the end.”