Blog Post 5
Disconnect, starring Jason Bateman is a must-see movie that should be a required watching for any class exploring digital culture. There are three serious storylines that progress throughout the film that all deal with the unscrupulous use of the internet and social media. Although some of the tragedies in the film bring people closer together, Disconnect is far from a feel-good movie. The movie ends with no happy resolutions to the problems, which makes the film seem realistic and drives home the idea that the internet and social media can be dangerous and even lethal if used recklessly.
Bateman is the father of a quiet music loving son, Ben, who has some trouble fitting in at his high school. He is targeted by two boys who come up with a scheme to trick and embarrass him. The boys set up a fake profile on Instagram to start a dialogue with Ben. Their fake profile is a girl his age that attends another school in town. When they gain his trust, the boys trick their target into sending a nude picture of himself which they immediately forward to all the students at the school. The embarrassment is too much for Ben to handle and he attempts suicide by hanging himself in his room. Ben is still in a coma when the movie ends.
The second storyline deals with identity theft. After losing a young son, Cindy turns to a chat room for support after her husband refuses to discuss the tragedy. Through the chat room, Cindy unknowingly allows her new trusted friend access to her personal information which he uses to steal her husband’s identity. The couple finds themselves in a long line of people dealing with this issue with little help from the police while they lose their home and belongings to creditors. Instead of being helpless, the couple sets out on a mission to find the culprit. At the end of the film they find themselves face to face with whom they think stole their money. Guns are involved and they barely avoid another tragedy.
The third and final storyline involves the exploitation of minors in a chat-room stripper house. A reporter, Nina, at a local news station pretends to be an interested client of a young male stripper named Kyle. She develops feelings for Kyle and wants to save him and the other kids from their boss and a meaningless life. Nina breaks the rules and loses her job in the process but still works with the FBI to shut down the operation. Unfortunately, the boss is tipped off and the kids are moved before the bust can happen. The story explores the exploitation of children over the internet and the awful conditions in which they exist.
This movie would be the perfect addition to our Digital Culture class. This movie deals with common real-life dangers of our current digital world. I did some brief investigation on these topics and found it eye opening to see the number of crimes associated with these three scenarios. I think it would prompt great questions of why these things occur so often and what can be done to stop or reduce these things. The assignment would be to watch the movie and pick one of the storylines to investigate further. For example, research and report on fake profiles and social media bullying. How do the social media platforms regulate and try to stop this practice if at all? Do these platforms have any policies on making fake profiles and / or bullying and if so, what are they? Are these companies to blame and should they have any responsibility? What new rules and or regulations could help prevent these things from occurring?