Documentaries are often a great way to teach the masses about subjects that they either wouldn’t normally encounter or try to avoid. Whenever I have a lazy day ahead of me, I always look for a documentary on Netflix to watch, and if I enjoy it or if it intrigues me I might spend the rest of the day researching it. If you haven’t already, what follows is a list of four documentaries that you can and absolutely should stream in the near future.
This Oscar-nominated Ava DuVernay film explores race, racial tensions, mass incarceration, and modern slavery in the United States today. In the span of about 90 minutes, DuVernay walks the audience through the development of a series of words, phrases, and actions that politicians and special interests have developed over the past 150 years to systematically oppress African-Americans. It is still one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, and I can always seem to find time to watch it again (and again, and again…).
- “Jesus Camp”
The rise of the Evangelical movement in this country has been swift, and the rise in their influence has been even swifter. This documentary follows one particular Evangelical community in the American South, and how its members indoctrinate their youngest children into the beliefs of the Church, including but not limited to their stances on abortion, gay marriage, Harry Potter, George Bush, and Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito. For anyone interested in knowing why the religious vote has been so influential in past elections, this film is a must-see.
- “The Fear of 13”
Not to be confused with DuVernay’s masterpiece, “The Fear of 13” also delves into the criminal justice system, but in a completely different manner. Nick Yarris was convicted of murder in the 1980s and spent 23 years on death row. After all that time spent in prison, Yarris issued a request to the state of Pennsylvania for his death sentence to be carried out. What follows in the documentary is the story of a man so broken by the prison he lived in that he no longer felt any desire to carry on. Yarris’ story is heavier than the others on this list, but it is a story that everyone needs to hear about in one form or another.
- “Fed Up”
Journalist Katie Couric had no idea when she started that she would spend nearly her entire career covering the epidemic that was obesity. For the first time in recorded history, more people will die from the effects of obesity than from starvation. With this in mind, Couric explores how, despite recent health and wellness trends, food manufacturers continue to make goods that are essentially designed to make people fat and sick. With its compelling stories and narrative, “Fed Up” is the perfect call to action for the next generation of consumers.