This thread is NOT about MRAs or men's issues in general. This thread IS about a documentary about MRAs. Please keep your comments relevant to the context of the film. Helpful talking points are featured at the end of the OP 2.
I am perfectly aware that MRAs are not well regarded hereabouts, please let us have a nice civil friendly thread.
The OP has ended up being too long, and has to be split into two parts, don't skip OP 2!
Full disclosure: I backed the crowdfunding campaign to the tune of $25 US in order to get access to a digital copy. I will try to keep the OP fairly neutral.
The OP is not as comprehensive as I would like. There's tons missing, the citation could use improving. Honestly, I'm exhausted from working on it. Please don't come at me for leaving out an important criticism/defence of Jaye or part of the story (there's lots more), trust me, I'm aware. It will give me stuff to comment in the thread I suppose. There comes a time when you have to let your babies fly. I'm just going to post it for now and spruce it up a bit later.
The Red Pill
Premiering on October 7th
, The Red Pill
is a documentary about not just the men's rights movement, but the journey the director Cassie Jaye
went on while making it. Depending on your outlook, it may represent a chance for important perspectives and issues to finally be represented fairly in the mainstream, a cautionary tale of how an outsider can be seduced by a harmful worldview, or just an unprecedented look at an hitherto unexplored subject. If it is actually any good or not - we don't know yet. How the film came to be, the director's journey, the making of it, the coverage of it, it's crowdfunding campaign, the controversy surrounding it and how it may be received are stories unto themselves that this thread will attempt to explore.
The OP will explore:
- The meaning of the title of the film
- The personal history and past work of the director
- How the director came to make the documentary
- The personal journey the director went on while make the film
- The ups and downs of the films crowdfunding campaign
- And the controversy surrounding the film once it was successfully funded
"The Red Pill"
The men's rights movement is nothing if not controversial, and from the outset this film could not escape that. The very title is a subject of some consternation that requires some clarification. MRAs and Red Pillers, of Reddit fame
, generally don't like to be conflated
with one another. Jaye thoroughly addressed
the question of the title in her Reddit AMA
In an early interview
with Paul Elam, Jaye also stated
that she felt the title was appropriate as "that symbolism was the closest to what the process has been like to me."
Cassie Jaye grew up Seattle in an Evangelical Christian household. She describes herself as having been "a bit of a theatre kid". Her first "life transformation" was beginning to question and leaving the Church in which she was raised. At the age of 18 she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film acting career. Jaye soon became upset with her role in society and the portrayal of women in film: "the blonde girl dying in the woods with her shirt torn". Her expressions of frustration at her experiences as a young woman in Hollywood were characterised as feminist by her friends & family.
So, that’s when I looked up feminism, before I started using that label, and I found it to mean just being for women’s rights and gender equality and thought ‘ Well that’s simple enough I already believe in that so I guess I’m a feminist.’
Jaye pursued acting for four or five years, before the writers strike of 2007/2008 made it difficult to find work. She began to spend a lot of time watching films, where she says she fell in love with the genre of documentaries.
So I fell in love with documentaries and really just knowing people’s stories and experiences and, I guess I found making documentaries as a way to go on the journies that I want to go on for just my own selfish reasons.
As we will see, a common thread throughout Jaye's work is using it to explore her own worldview, and a strong conviction in fairness to both sides of an issue.
See: AVFM Interview 01 to 04 mins, 31 to 32 mins. Sargon of Akkad Interview 08 to 11 mins.
Daddy I Do
Jaye started working on feature documentaries alongside her Mother, Sister, Uncle and other friends & family, founding a production company called Jaye Bird Productions.
Her first documentary, Daddy I Do
, started filming when Jaye was 21. The film is about Purity balls and the debate between abstinence only and comprehensive sex education. Jaye, who attended a Christian High School, was herself a purity pledger as a teenager, wearing a purity ring and growing up with the abstinence only programmes. She describes herself as having been familiar and sympathetic to the abstinence only side, and believing people in the abstinence only movement to be well intentioned.
Daddy I Do
So that’s the world that I came from but when I started the film I was starting to question how I was raised and what I believed and really look at the statistics and see if there’s anything that I could uncover that maybe kids shouldn’t be taught abstinence only.
was shown at ten independent film festivals and won 6 best documentary awards. Jaye attributes the reception of the film to it's unbiased approach.
So, the film was really just the battle between the two and from the film making standpoint we took a fly on the wall perspective, which is just share people’s different views and stories. And there was no narration, there was no, you know, anyone telling you, what to believe, what side you should come out of the film believing or being on.
Jaye says she thought it would be unfair to create a narrative that supported one side and didn't allow the other to give their best argument. She describes as unfortunate the tendency of documentaries to take a one sided approach, suggesting that a film that motivates people and ends with a call to action "is the anatomy for a more successful film".
Jaye ultimately personally concluded that, given the evidence, comprehensive sex education is best for society as a whole.
You can I think explore all sides to realise that there is something that’s best for the nation.
See: AVFM Interview 03 to 12 mins.
The Right to Love
Jaye's next film, The Right to Love: An American Family
, about marriage equality, followed the gay couple behind the Gay Family Values YouTube channel
in California particularly around the period of the Prop 8
Jaye, describing herself as sheltered, says that she didn't think she knew any gay people prior to working on the film, but that friends began coming out to her after she started working on it. She recalls herself and others who worked on the film as undergoing a "huge transformation" in the process of making the film. Jaye suggests that their naivety on the topic as heterosexuals may have been an asset in making the film accessible to heterosexual audiences, as well as seeing the lives of a loving family with children.
In some ways I think it’s great to make a film that you don’t know a lot about to begin with, because then you address those areas where the mass public may also not know a lot to begin with.
I think the biggest change I had from making The Right to Love was realising that if you’re silent about a minority group being discriminated against then you’re part of the problem.
See: AVFM Interview 11 to 17 mins.
Origin of The Red Pill
Warning: This section contains:
- Discussion of rape culture
- Discussion of rape cases
- Link to A Voice for Men post (Misogyny)
After the release of The Right to Love
Jaye was unsure of what project to pursue next, going through a creative slump around late 2012 and early 2013. She considered a film on the legalisation of prostitution, but her attention was grabbed by the the concept of 'rape culture', which she first heard of due to the Delhi Bus
rape cases being in the news. While researching rape culture, she stumbled across an article by Paul Elam on A Voice for Men
, titled The Unspoken Side of Rape
. This article carries a warning that its intent is to shock to draw the readers in further, and that is precisely the effect it had on Jaye, her initial reaction being "shocked and appalled" and "this is the rape culture that I’ve been hearing about".
Jaye was fascinated to uncover a perspective she hadn't seen before, and spent about a week pouring over articles on A Voice for Men, before putting it aside and returning to work on other ideas. But she found herself getting pulled back to "‘What is this men’s rights movement? They terrify me but I want to know more."
I kept on coming back to A Voice For Men and saying you know I want to know more about them and I don’t know what it is, they kinda scare me. They’re intimidating, I didn’t know what I was going to find or uncover by talking to you [Elam] or meeting the other MRAs and so I took a leap of faith and said “I want to know more” and I realised that this was really going to challenge myself because I’ve only known the feminist side up until that point.
Jaye thinks of herself as someone who can talk to anyone and try to understand them. She also describe herself as someone who always looking for a new project to challenge herself with. Jaye says she doesn't see the point in working on a film on a topic you already know everything about. If you aren't challenging yourself, you aren't growing, and she found MRAs views very challenging. She decided to contact Elam and the project grew from there.
I was absolutely terrified of the idea of meeting Paul Elam, and when I did meet him he's like 6'5" or something like that. It was intimidating, but my protection was having a camera with me at all times. So, I committed to making a film about the MRM but I never in my wildest dreams thought I would also become a subject in the film. That came later, when I realized I was going through a transformative journey myself.
See AVFM Interview 23 to 29 mins, Sargon of Akkad Interview 01 to 13 mins, Cassie Jaye AMA.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Jaye had filmed herself when working on Daddy I Do
, with the expectation that she would undergo a transformation worth capturing. In the end however she wasn't consistent enough in filming herself to include in the film. The Right to Love
also proved a transformative experience:
When we’d do Q&A’s talking about The Right to Love and said where we were coming from, you know, growing up very religious and never really knowing any gay people, people in the audience would say “You know, your story should have been in the film”
Jaye anticpated that making a documentary about the MRM would probably cause a lot of internal struggles or questions about what she believed. So she decided to document her process.
So right from the beginning of deciding to make a film about the men’s movement I started doing what I called video diaries and it’s just me by myself in a room with a camera and just talking about my thoughts, feelings, concerns, questioning everything.
This time Jaye stuck with the filming.
You can see the wheels turning and starting to change. I mean there’s even early video diaries that I did where I don’t believe what I said back then but it’s interesting to see how that way of being brought up and thinking for so long could affect how I processed interviewing MRAs and see that change.
One thing Jaye emphasises
is that including her personal journey in the film is not intended to compromise her even handed approach, and that she doesn't want to lead the audience to same conclusions as herself.
See AVFM Interview 26 to 29 mins