What is it?• The film tells the story of a man named Nev, who befriends a little girl named Abby after she emails him apainting.• Nev meets Abbys older sister, Megan, and their mother, Angela over Facebook.• As he becomes more and more romantically involved with Megan via IMs, texts, phone calls, and the like,little details start to go awry: Megan, a supposed songwriter, didnt really write all the songs she said shedid, and various other things about her turn out to be untrue.• Finally, the large twist at the end is that Nev and his friends are in the Midwest, so they take a side tripand go to meet Megan and her family, to find that Angela is the only one of the three who is real.• The other two were personae created by Angela, who is married and takes care of two disabled sons. Sheis also the painter of all of Abbys paintings.Summary:
is it Postmodern?• A film in the style of a documentary that incorporates social media in a very integral and experiential way.• The producers take a pretty postmodern approach to depict the characters and draw out the narrative ofthe film.• Mirroring some of the techniques seen ‘Cloverfield’ or ‘The Blair Witch Project’, similar pseudo-documentary mystery narratives, hand-held cameras and panning screenshots allow us to experience thecharacters, to develop the plot, and to eventually come to the realization that all is not what it seems.• We experience the characters through social media, as the protagonist Nev is gradually introduced to thefamily of a young girl Abby.• The camera pans across grainy computer screens, as Nev clicks through the Facebook profiles of the filmscharacters and we, by proxy “get to know” these characters.• The point of this exercise is for the viewer to gradually build trust for the characters alongside the centralcharacter Nev.• The film builds this trust and then quickly shatters it, at which point the trust we had for the charactersis broken.• As Nev makes the realization that people are not how they appear online, we the audience also learnthis vital lesson.
interesting faCts• Abby used photos from someone she found online and posted them to a fake Facebook account forMegan.• The girl that we know as Megan in the movie, is actually not named Megan at all. Her name is AimeeGonzales (which we find out about in the movie).- She is a model and photographer.- Reading through her wall posts, it seems as though she frequently photographs dancers, just as Nevdoes.• After the success of the film, MTV decided to make a TV series which will revolve around variouspeople’s experiences with fake profiles and will be hosted by Nev Schulman.
film trailer• The trailer has a very thriller-like feel.• It portrays the film as something that will scare theaudience.• The reference to ‘Hitchcock’ emphasizes this.• It is hinted that at the end of the film there will be adeath or something horrific will happen.What does the trailer suggest about the film?
Why is it Postmodern?• The film brings to mind the notion of truth and the master narrative, or lack thereof, in the postmodernworld.• The line between fact and fiction is blurred, both within the film and in discussing the film itself.• There are other postmodern concepts within the film also: Nev and his love interest Megans interactionsare mediated by phone calls and emails, depersonalizing their relationship.Introduction:Introduction:
Why is it Postmodern?• The movie is mediated visually by the imagery of social media networking technology.• The characters are introduced by their Facebook profiles• Maps are shown through Google world• Text messages are displayed on the screen to succinctly summarize conversations whichhad passed.Mediation:• The fact that we can only be shown pieces of text as proof, e.g. Facebook profiles, dethatches us from what is realand we have no way of ever really knowing the truth.• Just as Nev, is unsure of the truth behind the characters in the film, the audience is also prevented from ever reallyknowing whats real in the film.• We only see what they want to show us thus its not a true representation.• This has lead to many debates on the authenticity of the film and many doubt whether is it a true story.
Why is it postmodern?• Thus forcing him to physically visit these people to prove their existence.• The documentary powerfully emphasises the idea that ‘social media’ will eventually lead to un-authenticlives as people now have the power to create fake characters and fake profiles.• This means we no longer know who is real and what about them is the truth, which is reflected in‘Catfish’.Mediation:• This essentially creates a strong detachment from what is realand what is fictional.• E.g. Nev can never really be sure if the characters are realsimply from emails, photos or profiles as he is alwaysremoved from reality by his computer and social networkingsites.
Why is it postmodern?• This can be seen through the flirty relationship between Nev and Megan which is all done throughtechnology such as phones or computers.• The film emphasises the fact that social networking technology could eventually lead to downfall (Nev’sheartbreak) due to the false and exaggerated characters created by others.• The lines between reality and fiction are incredibly blurred leaving even the viewer questioning whetheror not the documentary itself is fictional.• The Internet is the locus of the hyperreal.- Our reliance on the Internet and trusting what we receive from it is how this all becomes perpetuated intosociety.Hyper Reality:
Baurillards - hyperrealityRealityHeighten and exaggerated(Simulate )SimulacraHyperrealityAngela has created various fakeprofiles that she controls.She’s talking to people through these accounts and establishingrelationships with these people as if she was the characters.Nev believes these constructed identities to be realpeople. And has fallen in love with ‘Megan’.Nev believes that he is in a relationship with a womennamed Megan.
• It combines film with documentary.• This is down to the fact that it is filmed in the style of a documentary and looks quite armature.- E.g. the handheld camera and unscripted dialogue.• The film aspect is emphasized through the linear narrative .- E.g. the film follows the rules of Todorov’s theory about narratives.Why is it postmodern?Hybridity:New equilibriumNew equilibriumDisequilibriumDisequilibriumEquilibriumEquilibriumNev is in love with a girl whohe believes to be Megan.Nev suspects that Megan is fakeand discovers proof that Meganis lying about aspects of her life.Nev discovers the truth andrealises that Angela is not harmfulbut just lonely.
Why is it postmodern?• The film constantly mentions to the audience the fact that they are filming a documentary about Nev.• They filmmakers show the filming process to the audience.• In doing so it becomes self-reflexive as we are made aware that we are watching a text.- The fact that the film is supposedly scripted emphasises this as we become aware that everything doneand said serves a particular purpose.E.g. It feels like someone just grabbed a simple cheap camera and started filming an unwilling subject.Self-reflexivity:
Why is it postmodern?• When Nev discovers evidence that Megan isn’t all that she appears, the innocent curiosity of the filmunfolds into a more sinister investigation into the media and our increasingly voyeuristic society.• The fact that the film is in a the style of a documentary reflects and emphasises how society has becomeobsessed by the process of looking at others.• Essentially the audience is watching what are apparently true events of Nev’s journey to discover the truthabout the characters.• The fact that the show is creating entertainment out of peoples emotions (both good and bad) raisesissues about voyeurism and the participants motivations.- To what extent will society go in terms of almost exploiting others for their own curiosity andentertainment.• The voyeuristic approach adds realism because the audience feels they are eavesdropping on aconversation.Voyeurism:
theories / theoristsBaurillard – Simulacrum:•Catfish promotes the idea that there is no longer a distinction between reality and a representing image.Why:•Until he physically sees ‘Megan’ in the flesh and speaks to her then, the only evidence that she is real are theimages he sees online or through ‘Facebook’.•These images are mere representatives of ‘Megan’ that don’t really prove she is real.•The fact that Nev is practically in a relationship with this women (who may or may not exist) re-enforces theidea that there is no way of distinguishing reality from representative images.•For Nev, these images represent the real ‘Megan’, as they are a simulation of her made up character.
Show on Mtv• The star of the ‘Catfish’, Nev Schulman, is the host in the TV show version of the film.• MTV and the producers of the film version of "Catfish" send Schulman and his friend and filmmaker MaxJoseph to help couples who have never met in real life.• They want to know if the person they have had a relationship with and fallen in love with is the real dealor if they are a "catfish."• Some couples have been together for a few months, others have been together for years.
how doeS the filM coMpareto the Show?How the film shows HyperrealityHow the film shows Hyperreality::• The Hyperreality is that Nev believes he isin a relationship with a real person called‘Megan’.- This is Nev’s hyperreality.• Nev also believes that ‘Megan’s’ familyand friends are also real andcommunicates with them regularly.How the programme showsHow the programme showsHyperrealityHyperreality::• The ‘Catfish’ in the show is actually the one tocontact Nev.• However the audience is deceived to believe itsactually the other person who wants to findwho the ‘Catfish’ is.• Therefore the Hyperreality is the fact that webelieve that Nev is searching for the ‘catfish’ andhe discovers who they are through detectivework.
intereSting factS• The show is reverse-engineered, with producers putting out casting calls for Catfish who revealthemselves to producers and agree to meet the “victim” before filming ever takes place.• The victim has no idea, about the show or the Catfish’s identity, and gets a call out of the blue asking ifthey’ve ever been deceived by online dating.• The shows are sometimes scripted or they’re just so heavy-handidly produced and edited they might aswell have a literal script.
why iS the Show poStModern?• Similarly to the film the show highlights the fact that social networking sites and technology allow peopleto create false identities to a great extent.• People can create any types of characters they wish through online profiles.• This means that in a world with such developed online networking we can never really be sure who is real.• Only by meeting people in the flesh can we prove their existence as social media serves as a mediumbetween us and the person we are talking with.• Also, during filming there is always another camera person present with Nev who is filmed filming thesituation.- Essentially we are watching someone filming someone ells.
how iS it Made?• The documentary film was filmed by Nev’s brother Ariel and their friend Henry, capturingthe process in which Nev discovers the truth about ‘Megan’.• It is presented in the style of a documentary, and filmed completely by a hand-heldcamera in order to emphasize the idea that was is happening is real.- However there have been many debates questioning the authenticity of the story andbelieve that the whole film is scripted and fake.• The fact that it has been presented as a ‘real’ story re-enforces the idea of voyeurism andsocieties obsession with watching other people and knowing about their lives.Technologies:- Camera- Laptop (Facebook profiles, various websites and Google Maps)- Phone (Contact ‘Megan’)
how iS it Made?• ‘Catfish’ the show is edited in such a way that blurs the line between reality andfiction even further.• This is emphasised by the fact that we do not know if the footage from the cameraof the guy filming Nev is actually real footage from that camera.• This is down to the fact that sometimes the angles don’t necessarily match thepoint of view from which he is filming.• Thus the show is presented as even more scripted and staged.This is supposedlywhat is beingcaptured from thesecond camera.
SiMilar productS• ‘My Date With Drew’:- 2004 documentary film starring Brian Herzlinger.- He combines his passions for filmmaking and Drew Barrymore to document hisquest for a date with the actress.- With $1,100 he won at a game show and a video camera, he has 30 days tocomplete his documentary before he has to return the camera under CircuitCitys 30-Day Return Policy.• ‘When Strangers Click’:- Robert Kenner tells the revealing stories of people whose lives were transformedin unexpected ways by online encounters.- He explores the ups and downs of the world of online dating through the storiesof five individuals who went looking for love on the Internet.
Why are they Similar?• ‘My Date With Drew’:- Both Nev and Brian go on a quest to achieve something.- Both texts are filmed in the style of a documentary.- Both texts combine high art with low art – e.g. Brian is an ordinary guy who ispursuing a famous celebrity.• ‘When Strangers Click’:- Similarly to ‘Catfish’ it also revolves around people who have been effected bysocial media.- Both texts point out the issues and debates about social networking.
hoW iS the ShoWvoyeuriSticvoyeuriStic?Audience:Audience:• The audience can see someone filming Nev.• Thus we are watching someone filming someone ells.• This therefore means we are watching a copy of a copy.
audience• The audience of ‘Catfish’ is ultimately a mass one.• This is down to the fact that it revolves around social networking and popularsocial media sites.• Social networking is a massive part of society and a majority of people use socialmedia sites.• Thus the issues and topics raised will interest a mass amount of people and theywill be interested in watching it.
debateSFor:• The film provides people with an example of thedangers of social networking.• The TV show helps real people with their ownproblems with people they speak to online andhave gotten into a relationship with.• It is helpful for society because it exposes thefact that many online accounts can be fake andpeople may not be speaking to the people theythink they are.- It serves as a warning to society about who theybegin relationships with when they are online.Against:• As many believe the film to be scripted, it is afalse and exaggerated representation of thedangers of social networking.• The film or show could actually promote ideasabout faking your identity and therefore lead tomore people doing it.• It is believed that in the MTV show version the‘Catfish’ is actually the one who contacts Nevand the team, therefore misleading theaudience that they help you discover someone’sidentity.
compariSon to hiStoricaltime period• A text like ‘Catfish’ would not have been possible to make during a time where social networking had notyet been developed.- The world before these sites were created held less dangers of beginning a relationship with someonepretending to be another person as people didn’t have profiles and accounts to hide behind.• Many of the issues within the documentary center around a very current time period (speaking to fakeaccounts).
the futureThe show and the film highlight some important issues that might become bigger in the future.• With social media developing more and more every year it is becoming increasingly easier for peopleto construct fake identities online, some of whom may be harmful to others.• If this continues to progress the line between reality and what is fake will be blurred even further thusmaking it even harder to distinguish between the two.- How will we ever be sure if who we are talking to is real unless we meet the personally.- But if social media continues to develop the chance of physically meeting people is declining.• Another issue for the future is the fact that people are becoming much less productive in terms ofsocializing, e.g. going out and doing activities.- Instead they are stuck behind a computer screen.- What does this mean for the future?- Will we only ever type to one another?
the future• Ultimately ‘Catfish’ creates transparency.• This is because it emphasises the idea that talking to others online is nolonger a taboo but a social norm.• Angela is a completely normal women who is just lonely – thus peoplewatching can relate to this.• It challenges the idea that people who hide their identities online aredangerous.