Netflix producers want to be seen as back seat drivers in their documentaries. Connecting interviewee's with microphones and tripod stand's, hiding behind their black magic cameras, they capture reels of outtakes from edgy CEO's perching in a lonely chair. This technique of informative storytelling is how Netflix became known for expressing speculative messages. The new release of 'The Social Dilemma' was sure to cause panic, with its forceful statistics about people's addition to techno handhelds devices, it's not one for a hangover. Director Jeff Orlowski approached this piece-to-camera style differently. Using actors to perform a fable storyline alongside the facts; would the high school musical narrative help anchor to the younger generations the alarming desire they have of needing their phones?
Every documentary needs to starts off dark, jittering audience members about mental health on social media, that; given the awareness of it's growth and impact on society; shouldn't be surprising to most modern-day adults. The conversations delivered by the design ethicist's and tech geniuses; like Triston Harris, Roger McNamee and Kara Hayward; are brilliantly engaging down the lens for the hour and a half story. As always, the graphics are stunning and create a real life picture for the audience to see statistics heightening the drama.
Anyone whose seen 'Inside Out' would've giggled at Disney's idea that we have small figures controlling our emotions within our minds. Orlowski cleverly uses this notion, not in the same cheerful tone as the animation, by visually showing Mad Men star Vincent Kartheiser as the villainous algarisms manipulating our brains.
Netflix's editing for the piece was dramatic; cutting sentences short to make audiences gasp about the controlling data we are - so frankly - giving away to multi media companies. The film portrays a message of naivety that's intriguing to follow from speakers who are so influential within our society, "Never before in history, has 50 designers; 20/30 year old white guys in California, made decisions that would have an impact on 2 billion people. 2 billion people will have thoughts they didn't intend to have because of a designer at Google..." (Triston Harris, The Social Dilemma)
Creating a reenactment of a story can work brilliantly when the information is over complicated for the viewer. On this occasion, it didn't work. The scenes between the scripted family became tedious as the key information abruptly stopped. Actor Skyler Gisondo, who played the teenage puppet for the film, seemed tired in his acting as his performance wasn't as strong for such a tech driven adolescent. The documentary would've made an effective message including scenes with real-life teenagers, and their reactions to social media, without beefing out the minutes with a fictional family.
If you're looking to be hounded by the truth on what billion dollar companies are alerting us to constantly want, need and cherish our mobile devices; then this film turns on a lightbulb within. For those of you already reducing your notifications and hours on social media, it's a formidable message that hopefully reaches younger age groups already sucked into the wormhole.