One of the most moving moments in the new documentary Mortified Nation — based on the popular and hilarious¬†Mortified live show¬†that has been staged across the country — is when a participant talks about how teens just want to be heard. They don’t necessarily need to feel understood — especially by adults — but they do want to know that someone’s listening. And performing in a Mortified show, this participant said, is a way to make people listen, albeit decades on. And, as the documentary notes, it’s still worth doing, because that awkward angsty insecure egomaniac sex-obsessed zit-ridden teen is still essentially¬†you.
The best parts of this documentary are the live performances filmed at various Mortified shows: adult participants read aloud from old diaries or poems or song lyrics or letters in front of a live audience. If you’ve never been to a live Mortified show — and you really should — this documentary is the next best thing. One of the reasons why these shows are so successful and so fun to attend is that the audience is now fully on the side of the performer — even though the diary entries themselves might be full of loneliness and desolation. As one performer notes, “There was no one back then to say aw about my life.”
Sex and sexuality, of course, rule the day, and these journal entries are a fascinating glimpse into the way teens struggle with identity and sex. The way that kids lie to everyone, including themselves — even to their own diaries! — just to make it through the day. And the way that kids fantasize and dream about the future, so sure that as soon as they experience their first kiss/first love/first sexual encounter, everything will be okay.
They were wrong, of course, but they were also right, because for all of these performers — and for everyone in the audience, too — that excruciating period did end, and they were all able to embrace their angst and shame and terror and embarrassing teen misogyny and own it in front of a room of strangers.
We guarantee that after you’ve watched this film, you’ll want to dig up your own childhood diaries and start sharing the shame, too. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll squeeze your bumhole tight in mortification. Feels good, right?
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