Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Real Hook in Catfish

Right now everyone is asking the wrong question about Catfish. Instead of asking if the story in Catfish is "real" people should be asking how real their own friends are on Facebook. Warning: although this post will spoil the plot of the film, the plot is so not the most important part.

Catfish chronicles Naive, Nev, a handsome photographer who innocently meets an eight year old girl on Facebook who paints renderings of his photography and posts them online. Before he knows it this talented "young girl" from Minnesota becomes his pen pal and his newsfeed, inbox and life are taken over by messages and new relationshihps with her family and friends. The most captivating of friend requests comes from this little girl's older sister who is a veterinarian, a dancer and happens to look like a porn star (which should have been his first clue that something was Catfishy). Over a 6 month period the movie chronicles how their surrealationship is fueled by frequent IMs, texts, phone calls and other romantech stimuli. The best of which is a scene where Nev fights laughter as he shares his sex messages with his guy friends -- the awkwardness confirming a fundamental techromance commandment -- THOU SHALT NEVER READ THY SEX MESSAGES ALOUD, because phrases like "cherry pie" should only be spoken at roadside diners and in Warrant songs. I digress.

As a "hopeful romantech" Nev even crops his long distance love into one of his photos -- labeling the image Someday.jpg. This sweet and poignant act makes the second half of the movie even more sad when he goes to meet her and realizes that she is an overweight, middle aged women with two handicapped children and an active imagination.

Although this story is outrageous, the craziest part to think about is how much dishonesty we all encounter everyday on Facebook, and how many subtle lies we have even told. From only posting pictures where we look H.O.T. to adding pretentious book titles to our "favorites" section -- the truth is our e-denties are more of a projection of who we want to be rather than a reflection of who we are. By putting our best face forward on social networking sites it's easy to attract and be attracted, creating a false and prolonged "honeymoon phase" where potential mates will never sees our flaws or baggage. People don't list possesive in their bio section, show photos from when they are sick or write status updates about their financial woes. Cause if they did, know one would want to be their "friend."


  1. DId you really just make a "Warrant" reference Jewels??? Holy shit, I just became dizzy from the rush of childhood memories that flooded my brain. I hope you don't have any readers under the age of 30 though. Otherwise a Bon Jovi or Aerosmith tie in might have made more sense.

    "the truth is our e-dentities are more of a projection of who we want to be rather than a reflection of who we are." I'll even take it one step further and say that in most cases people try and play up a certain image for the sake of entertaining others. Someone recently made the analogy that Facebook was like watching TV. It's like we're the producers of our own personnel reality show where an amalgamation of different characters that we find interesting converge to say over the top things and bombard us with edited images. And of course, if you know people are watching why not intentionally convey an aura of confidence, or at least make an attempt to try and be as outrageous as possible to garner either admiration or interest. There's almost something gratifying when you share a clever comment or observation that gets alot of positive responses and laughs. It's like you're the life of the party. Sad to an extent, but it appeals that most basic human desire - acceptance.

  2. Anonymous you are amazing. First things first, I love Warrant and had my first slow dance to it at my 5th grade middle school dance. Enjoy it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGRysccPOys.

    Second, I love where you pushed the conversation. It's crazy but you are right. Facebook is like a REALity show. How long do you think untill some MTV producer creates a series that chronicles someone's social network?

    A colleague and blogger who I admire sent me an email about my post with the following quote "We are all a bunch of identity constructs wandering around the internet, trying to get people to think we’re smart, talented, cute, funny, connected, successful, etc." I think she was spot on too.