[(A)sexual was recently released on iTunes. If this review or subject matter interests you, you can purchase the documentary here.]
Asexuality is an interesting orientation to discuss. I think of documentaries the same way I do as written features: The best ones take interesting, relatively unknown topics and present them in informative and entertaining ways. Really, that’s the nature of documentaries and reviews of documentaries: Was the topic interesting? Was it presented properly?
Read on to find out if (A)sexual covered everything well.
Director: Angela Tucker
Release Date: June 12th on iTunes
(A)sexual directly interviews and follows a number of people that identify as being asexual, but the focus is primarily on David Jay, the founder of AVEN (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network). For those unaware, asexuality is defined as having no sexual attraction to either sex. A lot of parallels are drawn between asexuals and homosexuals, which is discussed in the documentary; it even comes to a converging point when a group of AVEN supporters attend a Pride Parade in San Francisco. Interspersed throughout the documentary are news and YouTube clips, ranging from Jay’s attendance on The View to a personal YouTube account handled by a woman who goes by Swankivy.
Here comes the hard part: the actual reviewing of the documentary. The documentary doesn’t simply attempt to highlight the lives of those that identify as being asexual; it also attempts to explain and define exactly what asexuality really is. The documentary succeeds in doing so by contrasting the stories of the people highlighted with the aforementioned news clips. Typically, these clips involve Jay with someone in mainstream media who’s ignorant to asexuality. It’s a bit cringe-worthy to see Jay interviewed by the ladies of The View, listening to them poke and prod about his sex life and questioning whether or not there’s something wrong with him.
Aesthetically, these video clips are a huge detraction from the rest of the documentary. They serve as primary examples of mainstream ignorance of asexuality. Given how important these clips are, though, the quality in which they’re displayed is a letdown. They’re nothing more than clips ripped offline and inserted into the documentary, resulting in low quality, pixelated videos playing against a black background. I’m not going to pretend that I’m an expert of video editing, but the filmmakers could have at least found videos of higher quality to use. This might just be me nitpicking, but they’re way too glaring not to notice. The rest of the documentary itself, however, is show exactly how you’d expect a documentary to be shot – POV, focused on the people being highlighted in the scene.
Honestly, when it comes to reviews of documentaries, unless it’s shot on an extremely high budget, the main focus is on the subject matter. Was (A)sexual entertaining? Yes. Was it informative? Yes. Will it attract anybody who isn’t already curious about asexuality? Probably not. That’s not intended as a knock against the documentary itself, but simply the nature of documentaries as a whole. Simply put, if you find yourself searching for a documentary to watch as a way of passing time, (A)sexual could easily fill that void and educate you on the growing community.