Tickled

Tickled

Tickled is basically a film about how the YouTube-based world of “competitive tickling” is a run by a secretive exploitative millionaire named David D’Amato, a man who inherited his fortune and served as an assistant principal to 8 different high schools over the course of just 10 years. D’Amato would pay young straight men to tickle and be tickled by their friends, all on film, all completely clothed, and all under the guise of a homophobic, pseudo-religious media organization called Jane O’Brien media.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird

A coming of age film set in the mid-2000s, Lady Bird follows the senior year of a student as she resists the soul-crushing conformity of her Catholic high school. Several key themes in this film are deviance, identity, and social class. Lady Bird comes from a working-class family experiencing downward mobility which sets her aside from the more privileged students at her private school. As a result, she periodically attempts to pass as economically-secure, and nowhere is this more evident than in her pursuit of popular friends.

I, Tonya

I, Tonya

This scripted film depicts the rise and fall of Tonya Harding through documentary-style “interviews” with her family and friends. Tonya’s life is marred by “the incident” where her main competitor is disabled by a pair of amateur hitmen. The film captures the iconic scene nicely as well— whereas crimes are usually depicted smoothly in film, we are treated to the sloppy reality of the incident and the sheer stupidity of those responsible.

Mommy Dead and Dearest

Mommy Dead and Dearest

This documentary forces the viewer to contemplate criminal responsibility and the inadequacies of our current system in dealing with victims of abuse. It also make one contemplate the power of modern medicine as an institution, as hundreds of healthcare professionals must have encountered Gypsy without becoming suspicious.

Obit

Obit

Who gets an obituary in the New York Times? This documentary gives us a glimpse inside the most prestigious obituary outlet in modern day America. Editors and writers tell us what makes for a good obituary as well as the types of people they profile in these widely-read life histories. We also learn about the history of obits such as how old obits avoided words like “death” or “died”. Moreover, did you know many obituaries of famous people are written well before they die? These are called “advances” and are often composed when notable individuals become ill or pass a certain age.

The Florida Project

The Florida Project

By far, this was my favorite film of 2017/18. Though it was shunned by mainstream awards committees, I bet the sociologist in you will find this more true-to-life than any other film from last year. Furthermore, this would be an excellent movie to show to students of sociology because it exhibits so many concepts and social problems. Yet what makes this film particularly beautiful is that the characters exhibit agency and empathy in their complex relationships.