The One Netflix Documentary You Need To Watch In September Will Be Eye-Opening
Bazillions of students return to school in the coming weeks, which is why the new Netflix documentary Audrie & Daisy is so perfectly timed. The trailer, released last week, promises a deep dive into the two girls’ stories and how their lives, overtaken by rape culture, ultimately ending in suicide and violence for both families. It’s absolutely a must-see.
The two cases are about high school girls in small, dreamy American towns — Audrie Pott in Saratoga, California and Daisy Coleman in Maryville, Missouri. They each were sexually assaulted in 2012, but in bringing their cases to court, were tried by public opinion and social media shaming. Audrie committed suicide just a few weeks after her assault, when pictures began to circulate on social media throughout her school. Daisy is still alive, though she has struggled with depression, and her family has had to relocate due to harassment from the community. In a really sick twist, it was all the hate the two women received for being sexually calling foul that continued to ruin their lives.
Co-director Jon Shenk told Cosmopolitan earlier this year at the Sundance film festival, “There needs to be an open, honest conversation about what is right and wrong. Maybe there is never going to be a great legal solution to what happens when a guy and a girl are alone in a room.” Shenk added, “But, in general, is it good to be messing around with a girl if she is passed out? No matter what side of the topic you are on, any human being with common sense will say no, that’s wrong.”
While the two cases explored in the film have a lot in common, they’re also very different.
Audrie went to a Labor Day party with ten other people and was assaulted by three boys while she was drunk. During the assault, the boys took pictures they later spread on social media. At one point, Audrie posted to Facebook that her “life was over,” and she ended up hanging herself just days after. In the wake of her death, three boys were arrested and eventually plead guilty to sexual assault. Two were sentenced to 30 days in juvenile hall and the other was sentenced to 45 days, to be served over consecutive weekends.
Daisy was found by her mother passed out on the front lawn after she was served alcohol and sexually assaulted by four boys. Matt Barnett was eventually charged with child endangerment, because of their age difference, and sentenced to two years of probation. That’s a lot less than the rape charges the Coleman family was pressing. Barnett’s grandfather was a four-term Missouri state representative who was a state trooper for 32 years, and many Coleman supporters suggest these connections had a lot to do with his light sentence. However, the charges against Barnett were eventually dropped. Coleman and her family have been harassed so much they eventually moved away from the town.
The documentary is going to be an eye-opening look at how rape culture protects assailants and calls victims “skanks.” In the trailer, you can hear a grown man say women need to be more responsible for their actions and that they’re liars, so you might want to make sure you have lots of wine and remember to take deep breaths while watching.
The film was shown at this year’s Sundance by a husband and wife director team, Shenk and Bonni Cohen. Netflix bought the distribution rights and it premieres Sept. 23. Hopefully it starts a very important conversation about how society treats sexual assault cases.