Are the people you know on facebook really who they say they are? If you said yes, ask yourself these questions. How many of those people do you really know? Have you actually met all of them? Or are they just people your friends said you should friend because you would like them? What if one of them isn’t who they say they are? How much do they know about you? Where you live, where you go to school, where you work, your birthday, your significant other. All of these and more can be acquired on facebook. A uniquely twisted tale of love and betrayal, Catfish opens your eyes the dark side of social media and, in particular facebook.
Catfish was produced in 2010 by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, two young aspiring film makers from New York City. The two also filmed the movie. The story centers on Ariel Schulman’s younger brother, Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, a young photographer that shares an office with Henry and Ariel. As the film is a documentary all of the people in it play as themselves. However, the movie centers on Nev, Abby, an 8 year old painter, her mother Angela Wesselman, and Abby’s older sister Megan. Basically, Nev takes a photograph that appears in a local newspaper. Not long after that he gets a package from Abby, and her mother, who has turned his photo into a painting. He begins to talk to Abby and her mother over facebook, and it is then that he meets and falls in love with Megan, Abby’s older sister. As the movie progresses so does his relationship with this facebook community.
After Nev has been a facebook friend with the family for several months he begins to fall in love with Megan, a 19 year old woman with a lot of different talents, from singing to horse riding. She likes to sing and post her songs on facebook for her friends to hear. Eventually Nev decides to visit the family in their Michigan home. There he discovers some interesting facts that have never made it into the online relationship he has with the family. These facts could affect his relationship in profound and unexpected ways.
A big aspect in this movie is that it is completely centered around online relationships. Nev is friends with, even loves, people that he has never met in real life but still thinks that he knows. This type of relationship can be good or bad. It is good in the sense that it allows people that are far away from each other to be able to communicate and have relationships that, without social media, would be impossible. But it also allows people to be deceitful. Anyone can log on and create a false account with fake information and photographs for the purpose of tricking or spying on other people. This is doubly worrying when you think about how much information is made semi-public. The friend or friend of a friend system allows a lot of people that you know, and some that you don’t know, or know only briefly, to access your information. Such access could be used to blackmail people.
All in all Catfish is an excellent documentary. Its multi-faceted nature makes it so that many different age groups will be able to appreciate the film. While it may be a little too advanced for younger views to follow, its content is still well rounded. It has the intriguing plot needed to keep the attention of older viewers and enough surprise and suspense to entertain teens and young adults. Its plot is an excellent example of everything that can go wrong with social media and the film brings to life some of the very concerns that critics of facebook like to talk about. So while it is not the average 21st century movie Catfish is still an excellent film well worth the time of the viewer.