Friday, February 24, 2017

Slenderman Strikes Again

Slenderman Strikes Again
By: Cheyenne Kidd

Movies can come in a variety of different fictional genres including action, comedy, and drama as well as having nonfiction films. A documentary, arguably the most popular genre of nonfiction films, recounts factual records of an event. The documentary, Beware of Slenderman, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky on behalf of HBO Documentary Films, tells the story of two young girls who stabbed their friend on behalf of Slenderman and now face criminal charges of attempted first degree murder. Throughout the film footage from the police interrogation of the girls as well as the court proceedings accompany background information about the myth of Slenderman. With the use of the CAPP, or context, audience, purpose, and point of view, evaluation system HBO Films and Vermillion Films brought to light how unfiltered use of the internet as well as the prevalence of mental illness in today’s youth can cause more harm than people realize.
             The first two aspect of the CAPP system of evaluation, context and audience, pertain to the idea of the movie as opposed to the documentary itself. Context relates to the motivation behind the film. The idea for the film came after the stabbing of Payton ‘Bella’ Leutner, age twelve, by friends Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, also age twelve. The film while featuring young girls had a target audience of adults, and specifically parents. This theme, or bias, became evident towards the end of the documentary when the father of Anissa expressed reservations towards his younger son using an iPad for school. His opposition could possibly stem from how due to the variety of context available on the internet, children should have more restrictions and regulations. Filmmakers chose to interview the parents of both Anissa and Morgan to create a deeper connection with the targeted audience, parents.
            The final two components of CAPP, purpose and point of view, correspond with the content of the documentary. The purpose, or goal, of the film as stated early was to bring to light issues of mental illness and internet safety. The film established ethos and credibility by having the court statements of sworn in psychiatrist, psychologist, and police officers as they discussed the mental state of both Anissa and Morgan. According to multiple sources it was confirmed that Morgan suffered from schizophrenia, causing her to hear voices and have visual delusions. The voices and delusions interacted negatively with her belief in Slenderman, causing her to undoubtedly believe his existence. Throughout the documentary, the filmmakers played with pathos by painting the girls as victims instead of perpetrators. The girls’ parents came on screen and made statements along the lines of that Morgan’s illness caused her to attack Payton. For Anissa, her rigid belief in Slenderman and desire to have a connection to something, anything, made her more susceptible to well documented myths like Slender. Due to the documentary style of reporting, the entire film relied on logos by having factual interviews and by showing news clips by CNN and FoxNews. HBO Documentary Films have acquired credibility and status by having made 90+ documentaries over the years. The film while released in 2016 and shown at a variety of film festivals had a limited audience. The audience of parents the decision to add to HBO-Go and run on television one day could have broadened their watchers, but was still limited to the public.

In conclusion, the documentary Beware the Slenderman, earned a solid 3-star rating. The film itself provided sound content regarding the history of Slender as well as how the girls committed the crime. It did not receive a five star rating because the length of the documentary seemed to drag on in the middle instead of keeping watchers captivated the entire time. The filmmakers decided to include the history of myths and how they catch on through media for far too long. I found myself wait and wanting to get back to the trial and interrogation scenes. Despite the obvious bias towards the two perpetrators the documentary was overall convincing to their claim that the internet can act as a gateway to harmful content to today’s children.

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