Bored? Stream a Documentary!

By on January 21, 2014

When faced with the (extremely rare) bit of downtime, the university student often finds themselves wondering how exactly to spend this precious gift. Instead of letting this moment slip by, why not broaden your horizons with a documentary? Now, don’t go away just yet. While the word “documentary” may be off putting, rest assured that documentaries by no means are all like the monotone-narrated sleep aids students are perhaps subjected to in high school. Documentaries, just like fictitious films, are highly diversified in their subjects and delivery. Also highly diversified are your viewing options! Netflix (both versions), YouTube, and many websites (findable by Google search) solely dedicated to free streaming of documentaries are treasure troves for documentaries on almost any subject!

Now that the question of where to find documentaries has been answered, here is just a tiny morsel of what is out there:

“Miss Representation” (2011) is available on Netflix and also on YouTube. Its running time is 1.5 hours, and at around 30 minutes in the viewer starts to have an intense urge to punch Congress and mass media in the face. Why? It is because this documentary delves into the horrifying misrepresentation women are faced with in today’s society. It is a beautiful documentary with a powerful message that, in a time where women’s rights are challenged every single day, continues to be of high importance.

Continuing with the effect mass media has on our lives:

“The Century of the Self” (2002) is a four part British documentary series focusing on when and how Sigmund Freud’s theories began to be used to shape how corporations and governments control people. It can be found on YouTube, Vimeo, and other such streaming sites. The series has won two awards: Best Documentary Series at the Broadcast Awards and Historical Film of the Year at the Longman/History Today Awards. It is most definitely food for thought.

On the note of food:

“Food Inc.” (2010) is all about the big business operations that supply the United States with food. Rapidly disappearing are the days of the local family farms. Instead, they are being replaced by large scale corporation “agri-giants.” “Food Inc.” makes the argument that while Farmer Brown was concerned with quality; corporations are more often concerned with quantity (of profits) than with the quality of safety for their consumers. It is available on Netflix,, and at many libraries. “Forks Over Knives,” and “Super Size Me” are two other documentary favorites on the topic of food in modern times.

Going back to the subject of the fight for equal rights, some documentaries out on LGBT rights are:

“Small Town Gay Bar” (2006) focuses on LBGT life in Mississippi. The documentary follows the everyday struggles of two gay bars and the thankful patrons who often come from hundreds of miles away to visit them. The filmmaker, Malcolm Ingram, hopes to reveal a surprisingly close community that treats its residents like family members.

“Bridegroom” (2013) tells chronicles the story of Shane Bitney Crone, who finds himself deprived of the legal protections of marriage after his same-sex partner dies in a tragic accident. In a world where marriage equality still has yet to be achieved, this documentary seeks to teach its viewers the struggles faced by those denied the right to be married.

The above listed are full length documentaries, with each being at least an hour long, but for those whose moments of down time are perhaps sparser and shorter than others, YouTube is home to VICE (, a channel dedicated to give its viewers brief documentaries that focus on uncomfortable truths, taboos, and topics far from the usual. A few topics, just to give you an example are: the current uprisings in Ukraine, a suicide forest in Japan, “Young and Gay in Putin’s Russia,” “Posing as a Prostitute in a Turkish Brothel: Correspondent Confidential,” and “North Korean Motorcycle Diaries.”

Happy viewing!

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