Sometimes documentaries are meant to inspire us; sometimes they’re meant to excite us. Yet, other times, they’re meant to make us angry. They’re meant to devastate us and alter us in ways that we can’t undo, and maybe push us to take action. They smack us like a tidal wave and turn our whole world upside down. We’re talking documentaries like the ones listed below.
On the surface, Sea World is a series of marine mammal parks, aquariums, and oceanariums that have thrilled and excited families for decades, bringing gleeful smiles to countless children and inspiring people to learn more about and take care of our precious ocean. Sounds good, right? Well, this 2013 documentary takes what you know about Sea World and turns it on its head. According to the documentary, Sea World is actually a land of cages, wherein animals—notably, Orca whales—are abused and treated with unmentionable cruelty at the hands of their trainers and handlers, all for the sake of profit.
The shocking nature of this documentary film hasn’t gone unnoticed. Since its release, Sea World has reported year-on-year profit losses and slumps in attendance. It’s so bad that Sea World CEO Joel Manby recently resigned from the company as a result.
It might intrigue you to know that the U.S. government used to experiment pretty thoroughly with LSD. It might [hopefully] infuriate you to know the story behind the death of Frank Olson, a man who was an unwilling participant in these early experiments, and how the government tried to cover up his death as a suicide. Wormwood’s premise is so far out there that it’ll strike you as some kind of conspiracy fiction story. And it doesn’t help that its director, Errol Morris, brilliantly weaved his dynamic and innovative method of interviewing with cinematic dramatizations (with a brilliant performance by Peter Sarsgaard, among others). This story is ri-fucking-diculous.
In 2007, NFL superstar quarterback Michael Vick was arrested for his part in a large-scale dog fighting ring. Several months later, Vick pleaded guilty to killing no less than six dogs—mostly pit bulls—either by drowning or hanging them, as well as financing the dog fighting ring, and facilitating its activities. He was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison.
But The Champions isn’t about Michael Vick. It’s about the dogs they found in Vick’s “care,” and their stories. It’s a documentary film that follows the people who were kind enough to foster and adopt these pit bulls, as well as the pit bulls who weren’t so lucky. Most importantly, it’s an infuriating and moving documentary that explores the stigma surrounding a misunderstood breed of dog.
Food, Inc. looks at the monopoly that has formed in America, in which a small handful of companies control a massive portion of the foods we consume, and how these companies constantly put profit over the health and welfare of their consumers. It’s a documentary about how the entire food industry in this country—no matter what you’re eating—is for sale. It won’t just infuriate you; it’ll probably terrify you, as well.
Terra is the Latin term for “Earth,” and that’s exactly what this documentary is all about. The Earth, and more specifically, human beings and our relationship with all the other living creatures we cohabitate with is the focus. The problem highlighted, however, is that, as humans evolved, as our cities grew larger and our dependency on electronics stronger, we’ve continuously grown further and further apart from nature and all the other living things on this planet. Consequently, we’ve become more and more apathetic to their plight. Terra offers an uncomfortably sobering look at how we’re destroying the world and everything in it with smiles on our faces and wallets wide open. It looks at everything from the algae in our natural waterways, to the cattle in our factory farms, to the natural habitats we’re ravaging in the name of convenience and luxury.
The Pedophile Hunter
Amazon Prime Streaming
To some people, Stinson Hunter is a hero. To others, he’s a dangerous vigilante. No matter how you feel about him personally, to pedophiles and would-be child molesters, he’s nothing but trouble. The Pedophile Hunter outlines the controversial actions of Hunter and his associates, who pose online as underage girls in order to lure would-be pedophiles out into public, where they confront them about their disgusting behavior. Whether you’re a father, a brother, an uncle or just a sane person with a conscience and some semblance of moral compass, this documentary will positively enrage you—and for good reason. His approach may be unorthodox, if not a bit crass, but sometimes you can argue with the results.
Americans only represent five percent of the world’s population, yet we consume an astonishing seventy-five percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Are you angry yet? Prescription Thugs is a 2015 documentary that aims to point a finger at the American pharmaceutical industry and the political bureaucracy involved in the over-medication of America. It looks at how perfectly rational, law-abiding people find themselves addicted to prescription drugs (and eventually cheaper street-level narcotics) all because they followed the advice of their certified and medically trained physicians. More importantly, Prescription Thugs argues why no one’s really doing anything about it.