“Do documentaries exploit their subjects?”

Exploitation by documentary film-makers… Really? Never actually gave it any thought

Strategically Communicating

In their chapter on reality TV and Documentaries, O’Shaughnessy and Stadler explain that there are two issues that they identify with Documentary films. One of them is the issue of exploiting the “subjects” featured in the film and “victimizing” them. The point they bring is valuable and in my opinion, there are other instances when journalists end up betraying their source in one way or another.

My intention here is not list times when exploitation or betrayal has happen but to introduce a new idea, a new approach to documentary film making and journalism in general: a community-based and participatory research model. Some of my academic background is in Anthropology and it might be news to you, but the reputation of Anthropologists and Archeologists in certain communities is pretty negative. For generations, communities have felt exploited by researchers who studied them, used them as “subjects”, and used their data to…

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