Me @ the Zoo

DIRECTORS: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch

“Leave Britney alone!” screamed Chris Crocker, who would become one of YouTube’s first to be wildly famous for not being famous. Behind these three simple words lies much more than a plea of empathy for a pop star being perpetually hounded by paparazzi. It’s also a powerful cry of rage in this fascinating documentary about a young gay man who fights against bullying in a platform that has changed how we can share stories.

Chris, who in high school was gender variant and out was bullied so severely in school that by eighth grade safety was a major concern—and the school system did nothing to help. Therefore, home schooling became the only choice for survival. Trapped at home but armed with a webcam, Chris’s pioneering persona emerges online via self-made videos which rapidly go viral. On YouTube, anyone can become a “star”; no agents, manager or lawyers needed—just bare your soul and upload.

The documentary’s name comes from the title of the first video uploaded to YouTube; indeed Chris lives in the cyber equivalent of a zoo. Chris becomes a folk hero to some and hated for his unapologetic in-your-face queerness by others. The bullying experienced in school only increases with global visibility. This HBO documentary (executive produced by Jim McCay and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe) goes on to examine Chris’s attempt to get a reality TV show and what happens when Chris’s mother (who was only 14 when she gave birth to Chris) returns home from a tour of duty in Iraq, more troubled than ever.

— KEVIN SCHAUB

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: D221


Co-presented by:
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