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College Boys Live (Documentary)

Reality TV has become part of our everyday life now and most people are used to all kinds of content. But think back to the days of non smart phone, modem internet, technology just coming up with online chats and videos. College Boys Live is, I a documentary feature that follows a group of young gay men living - and performing- in a Florida house in which the inhabitants are under the constant scrutiny of multiple cameras. The footage from the house’s cameras is streamed live on a website. 

College Boys Live gives many of its subscribers and performers a chance to experience a truly gay community. The site according to its owner, Zac, is not just about sex and sex chat. He states its main aim is self-empowerment: both for the boys and for the site’s members. Three new members join this house where they have to live minimum of 6 months. Zac likes to give the impression he is doing this for philanthropic reasons, and perhaps he is, we wont know. But the boys, all young and skinny and just coming out, have to be under camera scrutiny 24/7 with only obligation being they have to chat live for at least 2 hours a day, of which at least for 30 minutes they have to be naked. So we follow lives of three young boys aged 18, 21, 22 who are just going Zac and his boyfriend in the house and we witness their journey. Not only do we see the journey of these teenagers, the film makers also show tearful family reunions, interviews with parents and siblings. The documentary ends with the shot of the house and what's going on 6 years after the footage was shot but in the year that this documentary was made in 2009.

I have mixed feelings about this documentary. Despite me being very engaged and wanting to know more on what happened, it also felt so disconnected from today's time but yet still relevant. Back in the day people used paid subscription websites (which were probably very few) to satisfy their urges and things haven't changed all that much even now. The documentary was a bit lengthy, given the subject matter and I would have liked it to be a lot more sharper and crispier. Somehow the makers all the relevant material but they could have done a better job of bringing it all together. There’s no conclusion drawn about the central figure of Zac, whether he is naive or an exploiter. There’s also little in the way of context surrounding where this site sits in the online gay community and also in relation to other adult sites. Despite my personal issues, the film is still an interesting expose on this world. The story is often a lot more complicated than just those young guys in their little boxes typing all over the internet, but how complicated it really is, would only be known to people who are in it. (5/10)


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