My Tribe is My Life

Canada’s National Film Board seems to nail this every time, and it happened again today when I checked out their latest, My Tribe is My Life. Where did that last hour go?

My Tribe is My Life looks at the role of the internet in forming identity, through eight young people and their individual worlds of music. All of the characters are outsiders in some way but have found a community through the internet and their love of musical subcultures. Pierre-Luc is into a niche genre I didn’t know existed - sensitive metal - and Sebastien reckons he’s the only gothic lolita boy in Quebec. Shana didn’t know she was an emo until she found others online and realised it had a name.

While you watch the videos, survey questions, statistics and quotes pop up along the way, and you can also create your own avatar from a bunch of clothing and accessory styles on offer. This part may be aimed at younger viewers, but there’s something quietly liberating about re-creating an image for yourself, however old you are. As Shana says, “I think I’ll always feel like a kid, even when I’m all grown up.” I think this is a sentiment most people would agree with - at least some of the time, no?

The music alone is great - in between videos it’s streamed live from a radio station and I just left it running for a while as a background soundtrack while I went on to other things. All the tracks are helpfully named at the top of the screen, and there’s a few I’ll be seeking out.

I’m usually fairly sceptical of media that try to pigeonhole youth into defined groups, but this piece lets the characters define themselves and shows how defining one’s identity is usually an ongoing process. So much better than a condescending journalist doing one of those lazy and quasi-ethnographic studies, as if they’ve just discovered youth for the first time.

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About this Blog

My definition of a great interactive documentary is one where I think I’m just going to peek at the interface briefly and come back later, but then I get sucked in and end up watching video and playing around on the site for a while.