A few weeks ago, I watched the movie Catfish for the first time. I know, I know, it came out over a year and a half ago. See, here’s the thing. I don’t go to the movies very often. There are a few reasons for this:
July 7, 2011
She/He/It’s Not There
· Movies are expensive, and I am poor. If I wait, I can get the DVD free from the library.
· I have social anxiety, and going to the movies and sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers stresses me out. Also, once I went to the movies and sat next to a guy (and apparently, according to a friend who works in a theater, this is a whole subculture of people) who kept rubbing against my leg. He wouldn’t stop. The movie was sold out and there was nowhere for me to move and I really wanted to watch the movie. Finally I kicked him really, really hard and he stopped but he spent the rest of the film leering at me in the dark. Ever since, I’ve had a bit of an issue with the movie theater, so if I do go, I’m very picky about what I see, and I go after the movie’s been out for a while, at a showing where there won’t be many people.
· People are rude in the theater. They text, talk on their phones, and talk loudly to their friends. If I paid that much money, I want the theater dark and quiet. I don’t have the right to shush everyone who makes a noise, so I’d rather watch the movie in my own apartment.
· I have undiagnosed ADD and like to get up and roam around randomly. I also often miss dialogue. I like being able to pause and rewind if I need to.
Therefore, a year and a half late, you get my thoughts on Catfish. Lucky you!
Before I begin, this is going to be spoilerriffic. And if you haven’t seen the movie, and are planning to, it’s really better if you’re not spoiled. So stop reading now. Read someone else’s blog. I give you permission. Just come back tomorrow; I’m sure I’ll be complaining about something else then.
The basic plot of the movie is this: a NYC photographer (Nev) whose brother is a filmmaker (the one making the documentary) starts getting paintings in the mail from a young girl (Abby) who is a fan of his photographs. He friends Abby on Facebook. Nev gets in deeper and deeper, eventually friending Abby’s entire family on Facebook, and falling in love with her older half-sister, Megan. They exchange steamy texts, emails and phone calls until he starts finding inconsistencies in her story. He and his brother go to Michigan to talk to Megan, where they find out that a. Angela, Abby and Megan’s mother, has been not only doing the paintings that Abby’s supposedly been doing, she’s been doing it all – all of the family Facebook pages, the emails, phone calls, and texts, everything. Abby exists, but she doesn’t even know that Nev exists and she doesn’t paint. Angela says she’s dying of cancer and that Megan is in rehab, but come to find out there’s no cancer and there’s no Megan. The photographs of Megan that Nev’s been drooling over are random photographs of someone who didn’t protect their Facebook account.
Now, I watched this with a lot of thoughts in my head. Of course, my first thought was, “Is this REAL?” Research tells me – maybe. The filmmakers (of course) say it was, every bit of it. Well, their success hinges on that, so of course they’re going to say that. They could say it was a docudrama, but it’s a lot more affecting if they say it really happened. Many websites popped up refuting various points of the film. My personal thought? Probably not real, but not for the reasons others have brought up. I didn’t research my reason for deciding it was a fake, albeit a very entertaining one.
The reason I decided it was fake? No savvy New Yorker in 2007 (I believe that’s when they said the events in the movie started taking place; I might be wrong about this, but it was approximately in that time frame) is so naïve that they don’t Google someone they’re falling in love with online. Someone without much access to the Internet – sure, it might happen. But a New Yorker, with an Iphone and a laptop and all kinds of technology, who doesn’t do his research? Completely rings false to me.
Simply Melme talked about life online so much more eloquently than I could yesterday on her blog and touched on this, a bit – we don’t ever know who we’re talking to online. On Facebook, odds are good that the person that friended you is the person you know, so you feel a little more secure. Well, at least I do. But I’m weird about my Facebook account. I only friend people I’ve met in person at least once. I don’t have a single Facebook friend I haven’t met in person. I apparently am one of the only people that does this – and I know that doing this makes me a weirdo anal old-lady technophobe – and now that I’m active on Twitter, I am cautiously contemplating extending my Facebook network to Twitter friends (although, am I the only person who gets nervous about sending friend requests? I’m fairly new to Facebook – I know, it’s surprising, I’m a late-bloomer, technology-wise – so for the rest of you, it’s probably second nature, but I can’t help but feeling, every time I send a friend request, “wouldn’t this person have already sent me a friend request if they wanted to be my friend?” Then I think, “What if they’re thinking the same thing? Then we’d be at kind of a Mexican standoff, Facebook wise.” Then I send it, usually, but I wait nervously to see if it’s accepted. Are the rest of you as neurotic about it as I am? No? Just me? Fine. Moving on, then.)
On Twitter, though, you don’t know who you’re talking to. I get that. And it’s ok, for the most part. I mean, what does it matter if I’m having a conversation about A Game of Thrones with someone who says they’re a young woman from Ohio who’s really an old man from Washington? I don’t talk about anything obscene – if anyone started that kind of conversation with me, they’d get blocked, because that’s rude and totally not what I’m there for, I’m way too old for pervy skanky sex-talk with strangers – so although yes, it’s nice to know who you’re talking to, and to believe that the person you’re talking to is telling you the truth, you go into the situation (as, honestly, I do with most situations – I’m as cautious about my life as a Vietnam vet with PTSD) with that in mind and one eye on the exit at all times. Is it sad you can’t ever completely relax? Yes. But that’s life, you know? It’s the way things are. I haven’t completely relaxed in years. I wouldn’t know how.
Nev in Catfish (yes, I haven’t forgotten, I’m going back to it, just give me time), whether the movie was true or not, blindly trusted someone he met online. He had frank sexual talks with this person (um, Nev, you’ve seen To Catch a Predator, right? OK. Just checking. The person could have been 14, just to be clear, here. You wouldn’t know. YOU DIDN’T GOOGLE THEM.) For the love of Pete, I Google everything and everyone. I self-Google. I Googled the damn filmmakers after I finished the movie! Doesn’t everyone do this? Not only did he not, it was never even brought up as a possibility!
However, this topic has been covered before. First by Armistead Maupin in The Night Listener in 2000 (and in the movie of the same name in 2006); then in Rosie O’Donnell’s book Find Me from 2002. In both books, a similar situation occurs – someone claims to be someone they’re not and pulls the subject into a web of lies and deceit. Both books are non-fiction; therefore, people more famous than Nev have been fooled by psychopaths (and didn’t do their Google homework.)
I guess we’re a trusting people, overall? Maybe that’s my problem. I’m not. At all. Not even the tiniest bit. I always score badly on those damn personality tests because I’m not in the least bit trusting. You give me a present and I want to know, immediately, what you want in return for it. I think those of us who have been burned badly in the past are like that – we’re like dogs who have been kicked too many times to ever trust that the hand coming at us wants to pet us this time, so we either cower or we attack. Fool me once, shame on you – you know the rest (even if Dubya doesn’t.)
Apparently, at Sundance, when someone confronted the filmmakers about the film being false, they pulled a classic Shakespearean move and protested too much, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with “WELL! If it’s FAKE, then my brother Nev is the next MARLON BRANDO! Give it up for NEV!” and managed to drown out the critic’s voice with the attendant clapping.
Make up your own mind, if you watch. I have. It’s an entertaining film, but I don’t think it’s real. Not in this day and age, not with these people, not with our use of technology and fear of the unknown.
Also, you Google that shit. That is what you do. He was lucky Megan wasn’t real and a serial killer, for all the research he did.