TFW No GF

 

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Alex Lee Moyer’s documentary examines the disenfranchised on-line male - as summed up in the meme “That Feel When No Girlfriend”.

   
TFW no GF

 

As someone who spent far too much time on the Internet from the age of 14 until about 24, and narrowly escaped developing a severely warped worldview detrimental to my mental health and growth as a human being, I felt connected to the subjects in this documentary. Almost a pseudo-kinship. Watching TFW NO GF was like viewing an alternate future of how my life could have turned out if I hadn't pull myself out of that downward spiral. Clearly, not everyone was so lucky, and the fact that these young men (and perhaps even the filmmaker) don't view that as necessarily a bad thing is interesting.

 

I say interesting rather than good or bad purposefully. Certainly, there is value in exploring different perspectives. 4chan (and the Internet in general) has been demonized in the media since its inception, and not without good reason. TFW NO GF attempts to discuss free speech, the validity of nihilism and the disaffection of young males that has strangled the demographic in post-1990s’ America. I don't know if anything new is being said, but I appreciated the attention paid to a serious issue often downplayed in mainstream media, or often treated as humorously inconsequential when compared to more ‘valid’ negative life experiences.

 

All that being said, it was a missed opportunity not to focus on the actual harmful aspects and consequences of websites like 4chan, 8chan, and liveleak. More attention should have been paid to the groups of people who actively use these sites and weaponise anonymity to radicalize such disaffected young men into action. While it is true that the media hyper-sensationalizes these issues, and not everyone who participates in online forum discussion is a racist, misogynistic, and violent domestic terrorist, this documentary seems to suggest that those people don't exist at all, at least not in any concrete, tangibly harmful way. Elliott Roger is name-dropped, and there are other vague allusions to be made in the form of brief flashing images, but the film would have been more balanced, and perhaps more effective, if there was a greater focus placed on these more harmful and damaging groups of people, even if just to highlight the palpable and important contrast. It seems disingenuous otherwise.

 

Overall, I did enjoy the film. I appreciated the music choices more and more as the film went on. The visual presentation was really creative and inspired at points, ‘Prince of Zimbabwe’ deserves an immense amount of credit for the work they did in making the memeology feel genuine and informative. Alex Lee Moyer also deserves admiration for daring to go against the mainstream narrative, attempting to bring more of a nuanced discussion to the table. If only he had been able to truly follow through on exploring some of the darker aspects of this world.

 

CALEB JOHN CUSHING

 

Dir Alex Lee Moyer, Pro Alex Lee Moyer, John Eisenman and Michael Reich, Ed Alex Lee Moyer.

 

Amazon Prime.

81 mins. USA. 2020. Rel: 27 April 2020 (available on Amazon Prime). No Cert.