[. . .] the high school students are fully aware that they are being documented. I’m not saying that their personal stories, which they are very open about in the film, aren’t true. It just seems that in some cases, like in the more informal group scenes, that it serves more as a self-fulfilling prophecy than capturing real life.
When I was cleaning off my desk today, I found the latest issue of Paste Magazine. Skimming to their film reviews, I noticed one about American Teen, written byThere’s one paragraph in particular that caught my eye: [Bold added for emphasis]
It would be natural to immediately wonder whether some moments were staged—does every sullen teen look forlornly off a bridge or sit solemnly on a playground swing?—or whether Burstein asked asked the kids to pause breakups and arguments until her crew could get there to film them. I have no idea whether any such orchestrating occurred, but just a few scenes into the film, the thought no longer bothered me. The kids, who at first seemed so aware of the cameras, and maybe even emboldened by them, soon appeared to forget all about them—a skill perhaps acquired by a generation raised on reality television and somehow accustomed, or welcoming, to cameras in their faces.
You can read the rest of her review HERE. This begs the question: Is media awareness beneficial for documentaries or is it more of a detriment? I’ll leave that for you to chew on.