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Thursday, 2 August 2018

Review: I Think We're Alone Now (2008)

I Think We're Alone Now

Synopsis: Jeff and Kelly are labelled as stalkers by the media after they profess their love for 1980s pop princess, Tiffany

'Exploitative Tragi-Story That Doubles Up As A Freak Show'

There are two types of fans: fans who enjoy watching their idol's shows, movies, listening to their music etc, and there are fans who want more than just that. To them, love is more than just an understatement.

Jeff has Asperger's syndrome and the documentary follows himself and fellow Tiffany fan, Kelly in the hopes of meeting up with their former childhood idol. 

During the 1980s, pop star Tiffany filed a 3-year restraining order against Jeff after he gave her a katana sword and five white chrysanthemums, which he deemed as one of the highest honours in Japan that he never gave to her. Kelly, born a hermaphrodite, meanwhile, first saw the singer in her dreams whilst comatose in hospital & became convinced that by living with her that her life would be complete. 

If reality TV is considered as exploitive, then so is this I Think We're Alone Now: technically, it is a documentary but it also tows the line as a reality TV show by exposing these two people as 'freaks'. Whilst the idea is a good one to explore, it is exploitive in its approach and it is almost as if it is trying to lump both Jeff and Kelly in the same boat as the loony nutcases when really it made me feel sorry for them that they should receive help.

Tiffany's music and performances are not featured and used; rather than being a documentary about the star herself, it's about how far celebrity obsession can become more than just owning the records, DVDs - they want to be with them, they want to spend the rest of their lives with them, in order to fill that void. 

As a spectacle, it's not entertaining to watch and at times, it did go in certain directions I did not give a damn for. But I Think We're Alone Now doesn't just denote the title of the song: it is a tragi-story about isolation, loneliness and where some people obsess or cling onto material things or people who are in desperation of acceptance and seek happiness & validation through them, rather than to do that by themselves and find confidence and happiness within themselves. Yet surprisingly, as mentioned, none of Tiffany's music is featured (although given that she wanted no part in this that might have explained its omission) and its approach is too exploitative that at times it felt rather unsettling and instead of being informative and highlighting people with mental illness, this just mocks and belittles them. If they wanted to do a documentary on Tiffany's fans, then the makers should have not targeted the likes of Jeff and Kelly & really they should've re-evaluated its approach.

At no point did I Think We're Alone Now tried to go beyond its limits and the pitfalls of celebrity obsession in a great deal and it would have helped had it brought in 2 other psychologists or experts on psychological behaviour and to hear from them their insights on this particular matter. 

Final Verdict:

It just feels too confined and I Think We're Alone Now should have amounted to a whole lot more. Instead, it turns out that it offers little, says little and does little that is beneficial and conducive that is just not all that helpful, let alone compelling & enlightening - which this is not. But just as worse, it never attempts to explore its subjects or engages in and with them - it just seeks to make the audience point & laugh & make fun of them.

Instead of being curious and going about it in an empathetic way, director Sean Donnelly gives us what is one of the most discouraging documentaries I have seen in a long while. 


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