On this episode of DocuNauts, Josh and I take a trip below the Mason-Dixon and into the past to 1981, Vernon, Florida. This quirky doc is a series of interviews with the residents of Vernon who range from endearingly eccentric to downright strange. 

Famous documentarian Errol Morris made this film as a follow up to his surprise hit “Gates of Heaven”, a documentary about the business of pet burials. Allegedly, his Vernon film was originally going to be entitled “Nub City” because the residents habitually amputated their own limbs to collect insurance payments (it is rumored Vernon accounted for 2/3 of all amputation insurance claims in the U.S. during the time). Morris claimed he changed titles and subject matter after receiving death threats from residents. Whether the tale is pure publicity stunt or the Bible truth, there is no denying that Vernon is a strange place.

Residents include a turkey farmer who says “gobble” with the sort of reverence normally reserved for a religious idol, a preacher who thinks the word ‘therefore’ is pretty confusing, a worm farmer who lost some of his wigglers when they orchestrated a cunning night time escape, a couple with a jar of sand that keeps growing, the Steve Irwin of Vernon who displays both a tortoise and an opossum, and a nonchalant police officer.

In this less-content-commentary more tangent episode, Josh and I discuss our small town experiences, our feelings about crawdads, the correct pronunciation of ‘creek’ and much more. Join us next week as we watch ‘Restrepo’, a documentary filmed while embedded with troops in the most combative region of Afghanistan.

 

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AuthorKatie M
CategoriesEpisodes

This week in DocuNauts, Episode 5, we watched Super Heroes which focuses on the men and women who have made themselves into “real life super heroes” and fight crime in costume. Of course the inspiration for all this stems from the popular comic book super heroes who originated in the 1930s and have been a dominant force in pop culture since the 1960s. Ever since comic book heroes have existed, debates as to which hero is the best, and more frequently who is the worst, have raged. Today we’re going to take a look at who the internet currently thinks is the worst, courtesy of Reddit.

Reddit user Scowdich  points out that DareDevil’s super power is essentially “being not quite blind” – the superhero compensates with super senses. DareDevil was made into a big-budget Hollywood film in 2003 with Ben Affleck portraying the title character. It was universally panned and currently sits at a 45% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. Other Redditors point out DareDevil’s secret power is having absolutely terrible things happen to any woman who spends more than five minutes in the hero’s company. User Herborist claims it can happen in less than five minutes, saying “My friend’s sister saw him across a crowded city street, then a safe fell on her”.

Another Reddit user points out the disparity of the Wonder Twins. While the sister of the pair can turn into ferocious animals, the male twin Zan can only turn into water – a fairly unusable power, and downright dangerous if you don’t happen to have a bucket to contain yourself. User JeddHampton links to the below video of Zan complaining about his lack of a true power, and the very real possibility of his defeat by a sponge, claiming “it wouldn’t even have to be an evil sponge”.

Who do you consider to be the lamest super hero of all time? My money is on Josh, but share your answers with us in the comments! 

Episode 5 of DocuNauts focused on SuperHeroes, a 2011 HBO documentary featuring self-appointed superheroes from across the United States. Here are some other documentaries that feature superheroes if you’re a comic fan (like me) or a potential super villain (like Josh).

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story
Starring Stan Lee, Sean Astin, Kenneth Branagh, Nicolas Cage, Tobey Maguire

With Great Power: Stan Lee

Josh and I have made our love and admiration of Stan Lee no secret, we think he’s fantastic and the more I learn about him the more I like the guy. This documentary examines the life of the man who cocreated a nearly endless list of heroes, including Spider-Man, the Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four.

Confessions of a Super Hero

An official selection of SXSW and AFI Fest, Matt Ogdens’ 2007 work chronicles four actors who dress as Superman, Wonder Woman, the Hulk and Batman to earn a living on Hollywood boulevard by posing for photos. Aspiring to eventually become famed actors, these interviews reveal the past and future dreams of the four mortal men and women.

Phoenix Jones: A Real Life Super Hero

Phoenix Jones is Seattle’s real life guardian / super hero who was eventually accused of pepper spraying a group of people without cause and pepper spraying several protesters during a Black Bloc rally. While the charges were dropped, Phoenix remains a controversial figure. This short film features an interview with the masked man himself that discusses his origin, his motives and his methods.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines

Girls can kick ass just as much as the boys, and America has loved female crime fighters for decades. This PBS documentary premiered in April this year and looks at how female super heroes often reflect broader societal issues facing the mortal woman.

If that isn’t enough super hero action for you, be sure to catch the next episode of DocuNauts (we’re borderline super heroes – we rescue you from bad documentaries) premiering on Sunday.

 

Cullen Hoback has produced another documentary and this time he's looking at our online privacy in a documentary titled Terms and Conditions May Apply. Looking at what is included online agreements that nobody reads but countless people check that they have read and agree to them daily. Are we signing away rights we would rather not be? What are the companies doing with that information? Would we approve of how they use the information?

A lot more people are aware of just how much information is being gathered about them when they go online or use their cell phone after the massive NSA leak that exposed what they were gathering about every US citizen. This documentary takes aim less at government and more at the companies we use online constantly that are collecting our data to use in whatever way they see fit as well as making it easier for the government to simply siphon data from the companies that have already collected stockpiles of this precious commodity. 

TCAM is currently having showings in multiple cities around the country (including Phoenix!) Hopefully this movie will shed even more light on the increasing destruction of our privacy online and what tricks companies are using to make it more difficult to track and understand what rights are actually being given up when we check that little box that says we have read and understand the agreement. On the website there is also a list of helpful tools to combat the privacy issues. Things such as opt-outs for tracking, terms of service; didn't read (which provides simplified versions of common agreements), and DuckDuckGo which is a search engine that is built around the philosophy of not tracking anything.

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AuthorJosh K