Beeban Kidron’s topical documentary InRealLife (2013), newly available on DVD this week, tackles the complexities of the internet from many a disturbing angle. The director exercises her skill as a documentarian, with the many teenagers interviewed in the film candidly revealing their most intimate thoughts to the invisible wall. But as her doc points out, the majority of teenagers are not averse to sharing their private feelings with anyone and everyone online. Kidron’s often poetic narrative weaves between the technicalities, cables and clouds to reveal the vulnerable teenagers caught up in the sticky world wide web.
InRealLife’s objective is to highlight the negative, focusing on over-exposure and the collection and storage of personal data. The stories are juxtaposed with footage of interconnected cables and wires that are matched with lowly industrial roars suggestive of a monstrous presence that marks the darkness in the film’s direction. A teenage boy with a subnormal attitude towards sex sets the scene. His obsession with pornography results in a lack of respect for the opposite gender which is sadly highlighted when the camera captures his interaction with a woman on the tube. Following this, an anonymous girl tells the story of how she became the victim of gang rape because she valued her smartphone more than her own life.
These revelations are shocking to say the least and one can only hope that these teens are in the minority. Technical talking heads and experts, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, provide the doc’s theory-grounded backbone and although their educated knowledge injects InRealLife with credibility, their occasionally jargon-filled dialogue dilutes the film’s initial fighting spirit. It’s the teenage subjects that provide the doc’s real gravitas. A gay teen in his first ‘relationship’ meets with his partner for the first time. Hours after meeting, laid on a bed in silence, the pair rub their smartphones together in some bizarre Barbarella-style mating ritual, thus highlighting the film’s overall message.
With smartphones, social media and gaming platforms, the internet is creating a generation of youngsters who don’t know how to communicate in real life and have no concept of privacy or solitude. InRealLife offers no solid conclusion to the epidemic but acts as an informative, entertaining and valid starting point for many a Byzantine debate. Parents will learn a great deal from the film and although it fails to offer any resolution, it dually educates and provides a valuable account of the chaos that has been caused by both big and small fry internet trolls.