2023, Hockey, Movies, Sports, TV

I’m Just Here for the Riot (2023, Kathleen Jayme, Asia Youngman)

This is a forthcoming episode of 30 for 30 episode which we watched at Hot Docs, not knowing it was part of the series. It’s a nuanced look at the riot after Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and the subsequent fall out for some of the participants.

The film does a good job of laying out the immediate cause of the riot and showing the riot itself. And it gets that out of the way pretty quickly, because the real focus of the film is on some of those who participated in riot, mostly people who got in trouble later but also a few people who were celebrated for trying to calm people down. And the value of the film is primarily these stories, mostly of young people who, in a moment of weakness, did something stupid. But, crucially, those stupid things were captured by hundreds of smart phones.

The film tries to give balance to the whole thing, by having voices who condemn the rioters and also people who are a little more understanding. I think that’s pretty critical to something like this because, though it’s embarrassing for the city of Vancouver, the sum total of the riot is property damage and some injuries (and lots and lots of bad press).

I have a few minor nitpicks, as always. One is that I would have liked to know the total number of people charged, and what with. The people interviewed for the film who were charged by police were charged with some pretty minor stuff and I can’t help but wonder if anyone was charged with worse.

Along those same lines, and a bigger criticism, is that the film would have been better if some of the people selected for interviews had done worse things. It’s much easier to sympathize with a 17 year old who hits a building with his hockey stick, and sees his life turned upside down, than it would be with a man who lit a police car on a fire. A greater film would have incorporated some of those stories, to test our sympathies and test the thesis that the social media blowback was out of proportion.

But, on the whole, it’s a good examination of social media mob justice for mob violence in the 21st century.


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