Running time: 89mins
The lowdown: Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and Bridget Jones sequel director Beebon Kidron turns her viewfinder toward the Internet’s effect on young people. But, the Web is a big place and Kidron’s attempt to squeeze everything into 89 minutes leaves this documentary rather less than 3G. Plus, there is the grumbling sense the director has never used Facebook or Twitter or the other elements of the Web of which she seems very suspicious.
The full verdict: Internet porn’s affect on young men and women’s attitude toward sex. The youth of today’s obsession with social media enabled gadgets. Teen dating in a virtual age. Gaming addiction. Web celebs. Cyber-bullying.
InRealLife could not be accused of lacking ambition, but any one of the above topics is worthy of full documentary treatment. So, despite a constant fact stream gushing forth by the closing credits you’re left curiously uninformed.
Kidron’s starting question is, what effect is the omnipresent Internet having on today’s young?
Interviews with teens of various social backgrounds all return to the same conclusion – an obsession with the ‘Net and social media has damaged them or at least stunted emotional growth (and led to sexual abuse in one disturbing account).
Numerous experts (including queasy ethical spokesperson Julian Assange) explain how corporations are cannily using the Web to gather information, shape opinions, and force people to view themselves through a prism of “I share therefore I am”.
Kidron ignores (or is unaware of) the benefits of vibrant online communities that have connected people globally. And “I share therefore I am” supposes we were previously enlightened and immune to advertisers’ opinion shaping before succumbing to the URL spell.
One scene, involving Tom, a gay teen with an “online boyfriend”, is remarkable for a moment when they meet and synch information on each others’ phones in a way that suggests we’re watching the future of sexual intercourse.
But, despite good intentions Kidron’s thesis imagines today’s youth as cyber sheep following the herd, which the target audience are likely to find more than a little patronising.