YES, I REALLY SPOIL CATFISH IN THIS POST. PLEASE ONLY READ IT IF YOU’VE SEEN THE MOVIE/IT IS YOUR AVATAR (I WILL NEVER SEE AVATAR AS LONG AS I HAVE CONTROL OVER MY BODY AND EYES)
My friend Sophia brought over a screener of Catfish for us to watch yesterday and I absolutely loved every second of it.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I don’t think it’s “real” and I didn’t enjoy the film so much because of the illusion of “realness”.
After I Tweeted about how much I liked the movie, I got two texts from two different dudes who I’ve been romantically involved with being like, “Wow, Molly. You know that movie’s fake, right? You know the whole thing is so fake and totally bullshit, right? I’m a little surprised you bought into it.”
Ugh, 1) You lack a buckwild spirit and that’s why we don’t hang out anymore, 2) I wish the filmmakers would give up the whole “This is a true story” thing because it’s totally beside the point. Real or not, it’s a fairly accurate depiction of a modern story.
Basically, this dude Nev starts an Internet correspondence with a little girl named Abby who paints. The movie begins with his brother and friend wanting to make a documentary about his odd relationship with this child prodigy.
Abby sends him her paintings and they communicate through email regularly. Nev eventually reaches out to Abby’s family, who welcomes him into their lives. First her mother Angela, then her father and her older sister Megan. They all add each other on Facebook and quickly become “Internet aware” of each other’s doings.
It’s not hard to feel like you know someone on the Internet. I mean, why the fuck are you reading this? You’re reading this because you want to know what Molly McAleer has to say about Catfish. How trippy is that?
Nev starts to fall for Abby’s beautiful older sister Megan, who sings and lives on a farm not too far from her family in another part of Michigan. She’s pretty dreamy in that “perfectly crafted Facebook page” way. They start flirting over Facebook messages, then it moved to text, then they started calling each other and talking about getting more serious once they met. They’re basically Internet boyfriend/girlfriend.
One night Nev discovers that Megan is posting rare acoustic versions of other singers on her FB wall and pretending it’s her and it clicks that there might be something wrong. By the end of the night, he’s figured out that this family has been lying about so many of the important details of their lives. Nev and his friends can’t find anything on these people that they’ve claimed is true about them.
The three of them decide to drive to Michigan to figure out what the hell is real and get an ending for their film. This is where shit gets craycray.
Megan’s not real. Her address leads to an empty farmhouse.
The next day the boys showed up to Abby’s house, hoping to meet Abby and find out the truth about Megan. Angela, Abby’s mother, who was supposed to be tall and thin and model-esque, is an obese woman with a braid that rivals Beyonce’s in the “Upgrade U” video. But it’s not like, a fly braid. It’s like a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint braid. Her husband is a good man who is quite possibly slightly retarded. Her husband has two sons who are severely retarded and physically handicapped. One of them has refused to eat for most of his life and physically harms himself. Eventually they do meet Abby, but she’s an eight year old girl of average intelligence who doesn’t seem to particularly care for art. Her mother Angela, however, is an avid painter.
If you didn’t figure out what was going to happen within the first half hour of the film like I did, this is when you realize that Angela is Angela, Abby, Megan, her husband’s online persona, Megan’s male friends, their sisters and their friends. Angela created an entire world so that she, the obese mother of handicapped children who lives in small town Michigan, could have a chance to interact with a handsome young man who appreciated every aspect of her personality that she’d put into each of these characters.
I don’t know if that’s the best summary, but it’s essentially the gist.
And how well do we all, as constant users of the Internet, the people that first tried out Facebook, the generation that is living and dating in a world where one in five relationships start online (Thx, Match.com commercial), know that story? Or that feeling? Or have that on our list of fears?
I know people that’s happened to. Not a person. People! Shades of that movie have happened to all of us. We all know we’ve spoken to someone online or read someone’s blog where it was just so clear that at least aspects of their life were completely fabricated because they knew the truth was hopeless?
And we’ve also all at least heard a story about someone showing up to meet a person they’d been corresponding with only to learn that they’d somehow managed to leave out crucial details about their appearance or situation in life. Catfish isn’t just about these dudes having this done to them, it’s about a woman so mentally ill and beaten down using this amazing gift we’ve been given in a horrific way. And you know it’s because the brutal combination of loneliness and lack of fulfillment morphed into a what I image to be the emotional equivalent of a malignant tumor.
Everyone’s saying, “Why wouldn’t he have Googled them earlier?”
Duh. Because he never intended to get emotionally involved with these people. This story would never happen to me because it would just never get that far, but I’ve definitely grown to trust readers who correspond with me via email and no, I never Google them. I think it’s crass. I don’t want to know. I’m not giving anyone my social security number or my deepest darkests, so why would I Google them? And I can imagine after feeling like you’ve gotten to know someone in an organic way, Googling their name may not occur to you. As far as Nev was concerned, the girl he was involved with was the sister of an eight year old girl that he’d been emailing with for ages. Is researching someone who is realistically a stranger before you let them into your life supposed to feel natural now? I know it’s the smart thing to do, but I can absolutely see why it wouldn’t occur to someone to do that.
FINALLY, everyone’s like, “The dudes in that movie were douches.”
No they weren’t. They were hot Jew boys in their early 20s, and WHAT A WONDERFUL TIME TO FEEL COCKY AND ACT LIKE YOU’RE SO SMART. What a WONDERFUL time in their lives to be self-interested and self-assured. And how the fuck do you think it is that a bunch of boys in their early 20s get a movie in theaters? By being humble, driveless nobodies? Please.
That being said, I wish they’d give up the whole “this is real” thing. It’s not real. It’s just not. No three amature filmmakers went out and had all of this organically happen to them WHILE not fucking up on the production end at least once. There was like, two issues with one of the mics throughout the whole film. And an underwater camera shot. We know the movie’s fake. But the FEELINGS, you guys. It’s a beautiful depiction of the complicated emotions and scenarios that this technology has brought into our lives. It’s a tribute to those who have mastered the art of producing feelings from illusions.
Doesn’t that sound at all familiar?