8 Documentaries On Issues That Are Bigger Than Us

31 July, 2020

I've never wanted to reveal too much about my identity on this small corner of the internet, but there are a few things going on that have prompted me to speak up. I live in a part of the world where I'm not majorly impacted by the #blacklivesmatter movement or the #metoo movement or any of the other major events that we are witnessing in history right now, but my eyes are open enough to know that no place is exempt from racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, etc., etc., etc. I ask that everyone try to pay attention to social issues and speak up when you see injustice because it benefits all of us as human beings.

I talk about these issues in my personal life and just wanted to say that I'm choosing not to go into depth on it because this is not the place for that. This is a space to talk about feelings and art and heartbreak and growth and advice and random thoughts that pop up around midnight. This is an outlet so I don't really think it benefits the world for me to talk to my small audience (that I'm very grateful for) about the worst parts of humanity. I didn't want to write something about these issues out of guilt or something half-hearted to fit in with the other things I read online because it deserves more. I wanted to add a small list of things that I think have helped me become more educated on these issues and some resources that I think have really changed my perspective on things that are bigger than myself. 

Disclaimer: These documentaries focus on most Western social issues with the exception of climate change which we are all dealing with. I realize that other places in the world deal with much different issues that are sometimes more important (such as famine or war) but I wanted to spread helpful information on issues I have been seeing a lot of social media and particular systems I think we individually can each make a difference in. These are also mostly free on Netlfix or Youtube but a quick google search will also show other places you can watch the films. xoxo

A n   I n c o n v e n i e n t   T r u t h  (2006) 

A popular film made over a decade ago describing how climate change is going to change our planet forever. I watched this for a political science class and was surprised to find out it mentions a lot facts I learned about in an earth science class so its a solid documentary to introduce people who are unfamiliar with the science behind global warming and its effects on the planet. Climate change is going to cause a chain of events that will change our lives forever if we don't stop it in the next 10 years. 

Available for free on Crackle.com here: https://www.crackle.com/watch/6162/2510959

1 3 t h  (2016)

13th is one of the greatest documentaries I have ever watched because it makes a connection I've never thought about before and inspired me to rethink a lot of things about life. 13th talks about the direct link between slavery being abolished with the 13th amendment and the prison system which allows forced labor if that person has committed a crime. If you live in the U.S. and have heard of the #blacklivesmatter movement I implore you to watch this film and rethink how your life has been impacted by race.

Available on netflix & youtube (for free!!!!) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8

P a r i s   I s   B u r n i n g  (1990)

This is one of many films I've watched in gender studies classes and it's incredibly iconic. This documentary shows the world of many drag queens and LGBTQ+ people of color living in New York in the 1980's. It made me realize how much of popular culture comes from communities like this that we don't give credit to and also brings attention to both the social issues being faced and the art being made by that world. 

M i s s   R e p r e s e n t a t i o n  (2011)

A classic films about the many ways women are misrepresented in media. This documentary really shows the system in places that depicts women in television as often supporting roles or just objectifies women all together. After watching this I think it'll be hard to unsee the differences in how media treats gender and why many believe in feminism.

Available on netflix.

S o l d   I n   A m e r i c a (2018)

Noor Tagouri is a journalist and activist that I first learned about through this four part series about women who do sex work in America. I like this film because it shows both sides of the issue from women who are involuntarily apart of the system through human trafficking and women who have chosen this work for their careers, which is why it is often difficult to legislate or come to a conclusion on the future of this work. 

L A   9 2  (2017)

A look into the riots that occurred in L.A. in the 1990's after footage spread of an unarmed black man being beaten by 4 police officers. Many people don't believe brutality to be an issue but after seeing countless videos on social media of people being beaten, this film about riots in the one of the most liberal states in the U.S. should provide some insight on the tension between civilians and police. 

Available on Netflix.

D i s c l o s u r e  (2020)

This is a new documentary about the representation of people who are transgender in the media and the very real impact it has on lives. The roles trans people play are often very limiting due to the stereotypes we perpetuate and Disclosure shines light on their stories.

Available on Netflix.

T h e   T r u e   C o s t  (2015)

The True Cost is a film about the nature of fast fashion and how harmful it is to the planet. Specifically it shows that human lives are often the true cost of fashion due to the increasing amount of people, mainly women, who are exploited in third world countries to make our clothes in harmful conditions. 

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Please also share documentaries you have watched that you think are impactful in the comments & thank you for listening.


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  1. very helpful post and i have to catch up on watching some of these so thanks for the reminder <3


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