I watched Catfish last night, a documentary made by two brothers and their friend. Basically, one brother is a photographer in New York and he gets sent a painting of a photo he's taken, supposedly painted by Abby, an 8-year old girl in Michigan. The film follows his 'cyber' (Facebook) friendship with her and her mother, father, brother and then his blooming relationship with Megan, her older sister, first on Facebook, then over the phone. Further paintings follow.
Over eight months he falls in love with her, becoming friends with her friends on Facebook, looking at pictures, spending hours chatting. Then she sends him a song she says she wrote and sang for him. He Googles it, and they find the song, written and performed by someone else. At this point it all falls apart and they decide to go to the small town where they all supposedly live.
Basically it turns out that, while there is a daughter, Megan, and an Abby, the mother is the painter; the 'Megan' that's he talked to, fallen in love with, divulged all his energy into; the friends; the brother. She has created all their Facebook profiles, talked to him over the phone late into the night. Her awe of him is palpable. His confusion and disappointment obvious.
It is heartbreaking to see as he confronts her, a woman who does not look as she (Abby) has portrayed herself in paintings. She is mortified, sad. At one point she says each of the characters she'd created were a part of her that she longed to be, that she couldn't be, because that's just how life turned out for her.
In reality, she is a woman, living with a husband in small town America (he seemed a bit wanting), looking after his severely retarded, grown-up twin boys from a previous marriage and their daughter, Abby, estranged from her elder daughter, Megan. An artist and story-teller stuck in a life she didn't think she'd be stuck in.
It's fascinating and I'm writing this before I go and do some internet investigation because, as the story unfolds, it becomes hard to believe that it actually, really, happened. It's also fascinating to realise how the world we live in is so stuck on looks. The Megan she created was blonde, buxom, beautiful in the pics (she'd taken pics from some model) which, obviously, helped our young lad to fall for her but, essentially, he'd fallen for her actual being, having not met her 'physically.'
This is a documentary that asks all sorts of questions and exposes many truths. Facebook is a minefield. Human nature is fragile. We all, essentially, just want to be loved.
The movie left me feeling incredibly raw and a bit sad.