Thursday, June 05, 2008

Devil's Playground

I had Devil's Playground on my Netflix list for months. I had always put other movies to the top of the queue, but lately I have gotten bored of movies and decided to give this documentary a chance. The synopsis from Wikipedia:
According to the film, at the age of 16, Amish youth are allowed to depart from many of the Amish rules, though the scholarship on the subject does not support this view of a normative rumspringa. The young people sample life outside of the Amish community. Many drive cars, get jobs, have romantic and sexual relationships, and most experiment with tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
One Amish youth whom the film follows, Faron – a preacher's son – even turns to drug dealing to satisfy his habit. Faron is eventually apprehended by the authorities and aids them in arresting another dealer. The movie continues as each subject faces a variety of challenges and pressures from both the "English World" and the "Amish World" of their families. Some return to their families, others do not. Some are baptized but later leave the Amish church, resulting in their families' shunning them.
According to the documentary, after the period of Rumspringa, 90% of the youth decide to rejoin the church.
I don't really quite know how to describe the film. It is a voyeuristic guilty pleasure on the one hand, but completely fascinating on another to see how this religious community condones the wild behavior of the teenagers during this period. It is completely accepted that the kids will drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex (girls boyfriends are allowed to sleep over after a age 16! Something I did not expect from the Amish community), and be totally out of control during this time, all the time with their parents looking on with a sort of patient resignation. There is this one scene where there is a massive barn party with hundreds of drunk kids stumbling around and then the camera sweeps to a different part of the property where the Amish owner of the farm is preparing to milk his cows...seemingly oblivious to the total chaos just a few yards away.
I can wholeheartedly recommend it, even though I am somewhat skeptical of it representing the average rumspringa experience, and perhaps just the more sordid examples.


Blogger Stacy Kaye said...

Kev and I really like to watch documentaries. Perhaps this is one that we can watch over the summer months when we are bored! Thanks for recommendation!

1:11 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I guess maybe something that the Amish people know that the regular people don't is that teens are going to be HUGE idiots regardless. The things you do as a teen are not the things you will do as an adult. I saw this movie a while back and thought it interesting. Another good documentary is Daughter from Denang. I think that was the title, its about a half vietnamese half american girl raised in the US who goes to Vietnam to meet her birth Mom. Very intersting when the two cultures meet. I think you'd enjoy it.

Long time lurker, first time poster.

10:50 PM  
Blogger Eowyn said...

It always impresses me that the Amish give their children the option of choosing their lifestyle.

From the time they're sixteen, until they make that choice ... it's the youn g person's choice to make.

Of course, once the choice is made there's no unmaking, but life's like that sometimes, no?

8:34 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home