Craigslist Joe: A Movie Review

A student in class was referencing this documentary, in relation to one of our in-class discussions, and it made me think that I might want to check it out, perhaps as a documentary to show future classes. The premise, follow Joe, for 31 days, as he lives and travels off Craigslist. He sets out with no money, and bums around the country on the backs of kind strangers. It’s to take a critical look at the interesection of community and technology, and attempts to show how kind and generous the American people really are.

And, it sorta failed.

Okay, it maybe wasn’t a fail in the grand scheme, because he accomplished his goal, but I somehow left feeling more depressed and sad about the state of this country than before. What I think I experienced was a disconnect between what HE experienced (in his own words, ‘inspiring’) and what I experienced sitting here watching it, which was, less-than inspiring. I think that I’m bumping up against the way it was documented, the drabness of color and slow-paced nature of the filming. I found myself, about halfway through, thinking “dear God when will this be over,” and felt like the people who helped Joe out on his Craigslist journey were other ‘bums’ and hobos and traveling types. I didn’t see many rich people offering for him to stay in their houses or drive their Mercedes across country. It was college students and musicians and others, who probably would have and will continue to offer rides, regardless of whether someone is filming them for a documentary. And that doesn’t make it BAD, it just didn’t feel all that exciting. In fact, I feel like I saw a documentary or something awhile back that showed a similar experience of somone bumming around the country and it was much more exciting, though I can’t remember the title of it.

Though, it’s not that I wouldn’t recommend it, because it does show an interesting social experiment carried to fruition. And yet, I think I would rather have read it, on a blog, or in a memoir, because the rich description that could have happened would probably be more entertaining than drab photography. Which makes me wonder if I have an addiction to excitement in documentaries or if I’m addicted to my own imagination, rather than seeing the beauty of his experience.