‘The most confusing tears’: home video, sex crime and indeterminacy in <i>Capturing the Friedmans</i>

Thomas Austin

in Watching the World

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780719076893
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701775 | DOI:
‘The most confusing tears’: home video, sex crime and indeterminacy in Capturing the Friedmans

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This chapter centres on Capturing the Friedmans, the controversial and award-winning film about allegations of child abuse in a middle-class American family. Close analysis of the film text, along with entries posted by viewers on the film's official website forum are used as case study. The consequences of the extensive use of home movie and video footage in the film have been discussed at length. To watch stories about ‘the world’ presented by documentaries such as this is not necessarily to feel nothing beyond the lures of voyeurism, nor to fall automatically into the trap of naive positivism. This investigation of Capturing the Friedmans has explored some of the multiple and tangled ways in which such ethical issues interact with questions of film form, marketing logics and viewing strategies, both proposed and realised.

Keywords: Capturing the Friedmans; child abuse; ethical issues; middle-class American family; official website forum; voyeurism

Chapter.  9768 words. 

Subjects: Film

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