Netflix Documentaries of the Month: Fed Up, Love Me, Tricked

It's time to turn our attention to the documentaries of the Netflix library. Binge away!

The May 2015 trio of our Netflix Documentaries of the Month spans three global industries, and on the surface they may seem disparate, yet the common themes are dreams, addictions, predators and victims.

Fed Up explores the tip of corporate greed and how the predatory practices and bullying by the food industry has contributed the global obesity crisis. Most consumers shop based on convenience and their addictions, and Big Food knows and exploits these facts. Children and adults suffer from health issues as a result of their sugar, salt and processed food diets.

Love Me opens to the door to international introduction and dating agencies. There are predatory women and men who have agendas, and will stop at nothing to get who and what they want – a bride, husband, and family. Introduction agencies aren’t guiltless with the avoidable pitfalls and heartbreak if they better prescreened applicants. And finally Tricked pulls the curtains back on international sex slavery that’s out of control, yet no one has realistic solutions on how to curtail and eventually reduce its numbers. Pimps prey on vulnerable children and young adults, while law enforcement is buried beneath piles of legal documents.

For our previous Netflix Picks of the Week, click here.

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Fed Up (2014), A film by Stephanie Soechtig 

American corporations are directly responsible for a large percentage of the global obesity epidemic. Big Food is more concerned about marketing, selling and placing their addictive salty and sugary processed foods in school cafeterias.

We live in a capitalist society, the agriculture department, the food industry, their lobbyists and watchdogs usually win both the battle and the war of unhealthy foods and snacks that causes obesity and can lead to other serious health issues. 

Corporations market their products to parents from the earliest point possible to fast track toddlers and young kids as consumers, rather than promoting a healthy lifestyle.

There are parallels between the tobacco and food industries. Tobacco producers denied scientifically-proven health hazards of sustained cigarette smoking for over forty years, until they no longer could and added the package and carton warning label. Another past nationwide initiative that gained traction and eventual legislation was the use of car seatbelts.

The food industry is a powerful one. The US Agriculture Department threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from the World Health Organization if they were to publish their alarming research. 

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The other part of the puzzle is genetics. Some people are predisposed to being obese, and in some cases, morbidly so. It will take a concerted effort to combat and reduce obesity, however the filmmakers aren’t hopeful it’ll will happen anytime soon. Waistlines around the world will continue to expand, along with corresponding preventable illnesses, medical costs and death.

Love Me (2014), A film by Jonathan Narducci

Love Me is an insider’s view into the world of international introduction and dating agencies, although the two countries highlighted were Russia and the Ukraine. A cross-section American men and one Australian man set about finding love and hopefully a wife on the other side of the world, after having established paid accounts with translated emails.

Some of the men were realistic and cautious, while others were begging for subterfuge and disappointment corresponding with provocative images their inner pubescent teen self would’ve never stood a chance. I felt sorry for the latter because these Bond Girls had no intention of one day leaving their country and flying to America or Australia to get married.

Introduction agencies for men who can afford the email translation and interaction fees is but one option for meeting someone new not found in their city, state or country. By contrast, a majority of the women who register with such agencies, it’s their only choose for a better life. Both parties should proceed slowly because feelings and situations can quickly change. One man invested close to ten thousand dollars over the span of seven months, and his dream girl wasn’t who he thought she would be once they met in Russia. 

I wouldn’t be an ideal client for foreign introduction agencies, primarily due to the exorbitant cost, multiple trips abroad and the painstaking wait for legal documents and clearance. I didn’t see any African American or Hispanic men in the documentary, perhaps those who would use such agencies focus on other countries.

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The internet, where anything and anyone can be found, removes barriers and connects those looking for something and someone not readily available in their backyard. Perhaps I’m a cynic. I applaud the participants’ courage to step outside of their comfort zones and embrace a new culture. The prevailing thought is the women are looking for the first smiling, friendly face to escape their past and obtain a green card. 

One needn’t be a male runway model to find love, the men profiled are a testament. Everyone wants someone special, however all will not make a love connection. Emailing and talking on Skype are no indications of chemistry because it can be manufactured. True love is unpredictable and sometimes blind. There was a hopeless and sometimes foolish romantic element throughout the film. 

It’s difficult enough to find someone to date and eventually marry in one’s own country and culture, but this is made more difficult with international dating agencies. Is it possible to go through the motions until real feelings develop, if at all?

Tricked (2013), A film by John-Keith Wasson and Jane Wells

Provocative opening images of scantily-clad prepubescent girls, teens and young women set the tone for this documentary. We know within a few frames we’re not in a fairytale as one of the interviewed pimps differentiates between a prostitute and a whore.

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I wanted to stop watching, but was compelled or intrigued to continue. The talking dictionary was a throwback to Blaxploitation movies from the 1960’s. There was nothing charming about him from where I sat, yet it was clear that he was a master manipulator who preys on and profits off the weaknesses of others. Another pimp said, “It’s easier for me to sell women, than drugs.” He’d be arrested faster and most likely incarcerated as a drug dealer, not as a sex trafficker.

Sex trafficking is a complex industry in which some 20.9 million people from around the world are used, bought and sold. Sex slavery is a vicious cycle, and there’s little law enforcement can do when drug-addicted mothers turn out their daughters to score drugs. If they do this long enough, they think it’s normal and fall into sex work. 

It’s easier than one would think for young girls and boys to be lured away from home and trapped in the industry. Once they’re under a pimp’s control, they’re brainwashed similar to that of a cult.  Pimps are masters of their domains. Spiritual and emotional abuse are part of their toolkit in breaking down victims’ defenses and psyches.

The pimps think they’re doing nothing wrong, and that their stable of flesh enjoy selling their bodies. Another colorful, yet sad interviewee was The Pimp Cup Lady who had an altar where she anointed bejeweled gold and silver-plated Medieval cups that eventually make their way to pimps and madams.

Some suburban johns are beyond stupid and are routinely arrested in sting operations, while others in seeming ivory towers make no qualms about their patronage. 

When former sex workers are either rescued or escape, their court cases collect dust, and their pimps aren’t arrested and jailed. The girls and women are left bitter and angry because while in captivity, they were often told they’d have nowhere to turn. The pimps exploit legal loopholes, and the survivors suffer from a form of PTSD or disappear into a black hole of shame.

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