College Boys Live 2009
1h 34min | Documentary | 9 June 2009 (USA)
In a quiet Orlando, Florida, suburb three young men struggle to escape the wreckage of their pasts and create new lives for themselves. Their new home is CollegeBoysLive.com, a voyeur web cam house rigged with 32 cameras, where their every move is watched by thousands of paying members. The site’s creator claims CollegeBoysLive.com is simply about showing that “it’s okay to be gay.” But the neighbors insist it’s a pornographic whorehouse and sue to have them evicted. This intimate and provocative documentary examines a complex subculture, but at its heart is the universal search for family and acceptance.
Saw this at a small film festival showing (in Sydney) recently, and it really surprised me. The title and subject matter made me think it’d be on the cheap and salacious side. But in fact there’s not much here in the way of gratuitous sex or nudity. Instead, it’s a frank picture of a group of young gay men running a site showing constant streaming pics from the many cameras in their home – and then really delving into their lives. I think the folks who directed & edited this film did a great job, bringing the human stories out. The doco was shot over an extended period of time, and what it ends up showing is a very clear picture of why the various guys chose to agree to be a part of the unusual set-up, and then following what comes next. Bickering about money, or boyfriends – drunken fights and love spats and problems with the neighbours – stories from these kid’s past, some of whom have had a rough time of it. Like any good reality show, you’ll end up sympathising with or getting annoyed at certain personalities, the wild ones the quiet ones and the odd ones, wondering what will happen next with each kid. And the interesting side of it is – is that watching a doco like this, or watching Big Brother or The Real World, or watching ‘reality porn’ – all have a related voyeuristic appeal. People are attracted to watching other people’s lives, and sometimes to being watched (though the financial incentive may be the main factor for most of the guys here), and it can be quite liberating for people who would otherwise feel isolated (the way a gay kid in a small town might feel), but we all have different limits about when things have gone too far. At times it’s funny and dramatic and sad, and it’s fairly unusual to see a film depicting a bunch of young gay guys so genuinely, letting them speak for themselves. They allow themselves to be filmed (for their website, and for this doco) in a way most of us would hate, but the rest of their lives are full of human drama the same as any of us. Recommended!
Director: George O’Donnell
Stars: Zac Adams, Jonathan Greer
Release Date: 9 June 2009 (USA)