You probably think documentaries are boring. Even if you actually really like documentaries, this understood fact of society is probably always in the back of your head. If you watch a documentary, you feel like a boring person. If you suggest a documentary to friends for movie night, they tell you to go back to the Library of Congress. But, I mean, who doesn’t want to hang at the Library of Congress?
Maybe these things aren’t true for you! Maybe you have super cool friends who don’t mock your taste in media. But the cultural representation of documentaries is that they are dry, dull, boring pieces of media made for old people who don’t know they’re boring.
These are dirty lies, and I want to talk about why.
This stigma operates primarily on the assumption that facts are boring, that history is boring. Which is ridiculous. Improbably fascinating things happen everyday, and we love to hear about them. But a documentary is about more than presenting facts and history. A documentary is still a film, after all, and therefore a piece of art. A documentary takes facts and history and creates art. A film has the incredible privilege of being able to tell a story at the precise pace that an artist wants, revealing new information only when the artist feels it creates the most meaning for the audience, and for the film as a whole.