Netflix Recommendation: “Audrie and Daisy” Is As Important As It Is Difficult To Watch
I think it is safe to say that our country has issues. The economy, mass shootings, and hatred spawned by religious and political differences are all mainstays, on local and national news channels. Social media outlets are constantly flooded, by reports and opinions on all of these matters and more, including the systemic sexual aggression towards teenage girls, by their male peers; A behavior that is not only reprehensible, but sickeningly and commonly reacted to, with indifference and/or hostility towards the victims. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are used to lash out, at blameless victims, of sexual violence, often leading to them suffering from depression and, in some cases, suicide.
That was the case, for Audrie Pott who, while drunk, was sexually assaulted by classmates that she thought were her friends. The next day, Audrie had no memory of what had happened to her, but soon enough pictures, of her naked body being defiled, surfaced on the internet. The subsequent cyber bullying, coupled with the lack of support from people Audrie thought she could trust, led to her committing suicide, eight days after she was assaulted.
When directors Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk interview Audrie’s attackers (shown in animated form to hide their identities), the boys refer to their crimes as “A practical joke”. The interviews, which were part of the judgement handed down after the boys made a plea bargain, are some of the most stomach churning moments of the film. Both boys passively speak, about what they did, as if it were not a big deal. They voice little to no remorse, and more often than not seem confused as to why they are even in trouble. One of the boys, when asked what he has learned from all of this, answers “That girls like to gossip.”.
In another case, a young woman named Daisy Coleman, with her 14 year old friend, was raped, while unconscious, at a party. She was found the next morning, nearly frozen, in her front yard. The attack was filmed, by one of the boys, and posted on the internet, bringing national attention to the case. Seemingly the entire community of Maryville, Mo, where the events took place, is callous and cold about what Daisy went through. In the days following Daisy’s attack, her and her brother were harassed, both at school and online. It got so bad that the family has to move, after having their house mysteriously burn to the ground. Meanwhile the boys involved, all star athletes and, in one case, a relative of a local politician, are dealt nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Both the mayor and sheriff of Maryville talk repeatedly, about how “Girls can be just as guilty as boys in these cases” and how the main concern of the townsfolk was to not let this unwanted, negative, national attention hurt the local economy or the boys’ futures.
The cases of Audrie Pott, Daisy Coleman, and other young women who are shown, in the film, taking part in an awareness/support group, are part of a nationwide problem. Somehow, in 2016, our society largely still views violence towards women as tolerable. “Boys will be boys” seems to be a running theme, in the attitudes of the communities shown in Cohen and Shenk’s film. It is disgusting and infuriating to see. As a father of a 15 year old daughter, it terrifies me to think that if something, like what happened to Audrie and Daisy, happened to her there would be no justice. One can only hope that films, like “Audrie and Daisy” and 2015’s “The Hunting Ground” will raise awareness, on a national scope, and encourage other victims to come forward.