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Must watch documentaries: Five documentaries about subcultures

"Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" is a docuseries about Joe Exotic and other large cat owners, was released on March 20.  – Photo by Twitter

You’re quarantined and cooped up in the house and someone — whether that be your mom, significant other or even your own reflection — is driving you nuts at this point. 

While we would recommend our favorite books to you, we know we’re burnt out from long and stale assigned readings. So what better way to keep yourself sane during this time than stimulate your mind with a good documentary?

While documentaries don’t usually cross your mind when you think of “fun,” our list will show you that good documentaries are full of natural comedy, tragedy and suspense.

Check out the list below to see some of our favorite subcultural documentaries. 

Paris Is Burning 

Subculture: Ball Culture 

“Paris Is Burning” is my absolute favorite documentary of all time. This documentary follows New York City drag queens as they unveil the ball scene circa the 80s and 90s. This documentary takes place in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, and throughout the film you will get a colorful glimpse into ballrooms and meet members who are by all means “fierce.”

“Paris Is Burning” is a time capsule to a time before RuPaul and a look at the effect ball culture had on pop culture. You can credit Madonna's song “Vogue” as well as words like “shade” and “vogueing” to the ball scene. 


Subculture: Heroines Fighting Opioid Epidemic

This emotional documentary is a heart-wrenching exposé on the opioid epidemic in Virginia. We follow three women, a fire chief, a judge and a missionary, as they fight this opioid epidemic and try to save lives in their own ways. From the very beginning of this 40-minute documentary, the action does not stop. You get a feel of how dire and stressful this fight against this opioid epidemic is. It is a tear-jerker, but an empathetic approach to the opioid crisis. 

Cartel Land

Subculture: Drug Vigilantes

Be warned that this is a hard watch, but nonetheless, it is by far one of the best and most illuminating films about drug cartels. This documentary follows a group of men in Arizona Border Recon and a Mexican doctor and his group of drug vigilantes, Los Autodefensas, as they both share their mission to fight drug cartels. This documentary is a raw and gruesome showing of the brutality of the cartel as well as the American and Mexican vigilantes who fight against drug cartels. 

F for Fake

Subculture: Fraudsters

This 1970s film is a different approach to documentaries and one that will make you question just what is real and what is not. “F for Fake” chronicles Elmyr de Hory and Clifford Irving, infamous fraudsters, in this docudrama which Orson Welles narrates. This docudrama meshes the real with the fake, much like a fraudster would do themselves. This film will entrench you in the 70s and get you thinking. “F for Fake” is a must-watch and a classic. Either way, you’ll impress documentary fanatics when you mention you’ve seen it. 

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Subculture: Exotic Cat Owners

"Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" has been all the rage ever since its release just last week. The seven-episode docuseries takes place over the span of five years as it follows the eccentric Joe Exotic, owner of more than 180 tigers, and his rival, Carole Baskin, an animal activist.

The opening sequence opens with a man saying that “The monkey people are a little bit different ... but the big-cat people are backstabbing pieces of s**t.” Throughout the seven episodes that include crime, playing with tigers as if they’re puppies and an arm being bitten off by a tiger, we get to see that big-cat people are by all means, different and, yes, backstabbers. 

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