Thursday, 20 April 2017

4 documentaries about paedophilia/ child sexual abuse

Because I'm a cheery person, within the past month I've watched 4 documentaries about paedophilia/ child sexual abuse. Here are my short reviews: 
1/ Deliver Us from Evil
This is a documentary about Oliver O'Grady, a Catholic priest who molested and raped about 25 children, the youngest being 9 months old, in California in the 1970s-90s. The film is not only about one individual- it then expands to paedophilia and child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and their cover-ups. If you like Spotlight, you'll like Deliver Us from Evil. The difference in their approach is that, whilst the former focuses mostly on the work of the reporters and the scope of the whole thing, the latter explores the life of one individual and his victims and his abuse of their families' trust, and at the same time, shows how many people, including the Bishop, knew about the cases but covered them up and gave O'Grady the chance to rape more and more and more children over decades. It makes you realise how awful it all is if you think about how many O'Gradys there are in the Catholic Church, considering the rule about celibacy and believers' trust in them, and about how many children have been molested or raped by them. 
Powerful and haunting, Deliver Us from Evil is 1 of my top favourite documentaries. 

2/ Capturing the Friedmans
The film is about the investigation of Arnold Friedman and his youngest son Jesse for child sexual abuse, and its impact on the family. It's a fascinating and thought-provoking film about the elusiveness of facts. And yet, the juxtaposition of contrasting stories by different people, over the course of the film, turns out to be little more than a pose of impartiality. Even though I now don't know whether or not Arnold and Jesse Friedman were guilty, the film makes you question the work of the police as well as the testimonies of the students in computer class who accused the Friedmans of raping them. 
The most interesting part of Capturing the Friedmans is the family conflicts. All the 3 sons were with his father part of a gang, excluding their mother Elaine, and that only became more obvious after the accusations began. Most interesting is that the oldest son, David, always stands behind his father as though he's a saint, even though he's a paedophile who confessed to sexually arousing 2 young boys, and speaks of his mother as though she's the root of all problems, without trying to see things from her point of view. 

3/ Louis Theroux: A Place for Paedophiles
As usual, Louis Therous tackles a difficult subject, and as usual, he is calm and polite without appearing sympathetic with sex offenders. These sex offenders, after serving their time in prison, are sent to a hospital to be cured of paedophilia or simply to be removed from society, without a definite time. The film, as the title suggests, is less about the sex offenders than about the place itself. My main problem with the film is that the whole time it raises a question without answering: how do these people cure someone of paedophilia? We see how the tests are done to determine whether or not somebody can be released and go back to society, but don't know how they're supposed to be cured. But perhaps that's the point of the film- the place is just another form of imprisonment. 

4/ Are All Men Paedophiles?
Yes, the film is provocative and meant to grab your attention. No, it's not what you think it's about. 
It's about the difference between paedophilia and hebephilia, the confusion over the concept of paedophile because of the age of consent (18 in the film), history, sexual maturity, paedophilia in ancient Greece and in religion, the paedophilia hysteria and its consequences, exclusive and non-exclusive paedophiles, offending and non-offending paedophiles, female paedophiles and double standards, etc. 
It is interesting, but as a whole, is a confused film, because it touches on too many topics and at the same time is unclear about its message. After watching Are All Men Paedophiles?, I don't know what the director means to say. 
Or I do. He finds teenage girls hot, and wants to lower the age of consent. 

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