Catfish calls out character-deceit

By Paige Preston
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Only a few years ago society was much more skeptical of the idea of social networking sites (i.e., Myspace.) There was always a likelihood that the person you thought you were talking to was not who they claimed to be on the opposite end of their monitor. Your “friends” were not really your friends. Although Facebook has integrated online socialization into our daily lives, new documentary “Catfish” shows that the threat of character-deceit is still very real.

Nev Schulman, a young photographer living in New York City, started receiving paintings depicting his photographs from 8-year-old Abby Pierce of rural Michigan. Flattered by her interest in his work, the two began a correspondence that would eventually span 9 months. Over this time, Schulman became close with other members of Abby’s family. This included her mother, Angela, and sister, Megan, both of whom had model-worthy good looks.

As the relationship progressed, Nev’s brother, Ariel Schulman, and friend, Henry Joost, began to document the blossoming romance between Nev and Megan. Late night phone conversations and racy text messages became a daily occurrence for the two who quickly fall for each other despite never having met.

As things became more serious, the filmmakers started to become suspicious of Megan’s validity with Nev. These suspicions eventually lead the group to take a trip to Michigan in order to surprise the family. What resulted is an awe-inspiring truth that trailers claim will “rock viewers to their core.”

The makers of “Catfish” originally sought to make a documentary on the nature of human relationships, both romantic and otherwise, through Nev’s bond with Megan and her family. Luckily for them, they got more than they bargained for.

The film’s twist is not as shocking as earlier reviews claimed it to be, but it’s the aftermath of their discoveries that are truly intoxicating. The unfolding of events will take viewers on an emotional roller coaster from start to finish that may not be appreciated by those looking for a Sunday afternoon flick, but it’s worth a watch if you’re willing to strap in for the ride.

The documentary is a social commentary at its core that reveals how Facebook has changed the way we interact with one another, in both positive and negative ways. On one hand, it has improved ease of communication between friends and acquaintances. It allows relationships to be easily maintained. On the other, the Internet let’s us display ourselves how we choose to be seen and can lead to a sense of intimacy that can often be false.

All in all, “Catfish” is a great film for the e-generation to see. It dares to make us question: How well do we really know our “friends?”