Eye For Film >> Movies >> College Boys Live (2009) Film Review
College Boys Live
Reviewed by: James Benefield
Documentary isn’t just about investigation, it’s also about performance and pretence. It’s about cutting through the crap to get to the truth.
College Boys Live is, on the face of it, all about performance. It follows a group of young gay men living - and performing- in a Florida house in which the inhabitants are under the constant scrutiny of multiple cameras. The footage from the house’s cameras is streamed live on a website. Filmmaker George O’Donnell attempts to remove the proverbial bed sheet from this operation, and physically and metaphorically get into where the 32 cameras can’t see.
The site according to its owner, Zac, is not just about sex and sex chat. He states its main aim is self-empowerment: both for the boys and for the site’s members. Indeed, College Boys Live gives many of its subscribers and performers a chance to experience a truly gay community. However, it also doesn’t hurt that most of the men are skinny or toned, under 25 and willing to have sex on camera.
Zac likes to give the impression he is doing this for philanthropic reasons, and perhaps he is. He started life as a blogger. In the Nineties he came out, first, on the internet. Since then he’s always had a webcam. He’s credited the internet as helping him with his problems with his sexuality. Now, he has a whole room of blinking servers and other black boxes. He creates a positive atmosphere in the house. The boys are encouraged to pursue jobs and education while resident, have everything paid for them and have lots of sex.
Yet the men are otherwise unpaid. This is despite an average income of $20,000 from the site, going into the pockets of the owner and his boyfriend. A lot of them have problems they’re running away from; all of which seem brushed under the surface until they bubble through some, occasionally, fast-appearing cracks. The house is prone to raging - sometimes violent - arguments, constant bitching and unrequited love; little of which Zac seems to interfere with. Perhaps the members of the site like this drama too much.
A great documentary is crying to be made from all this material, but unfortunately this isn’t it. Although the access is granted and material has been attained, it’s not shaped into a satisfying whole. There’s no conclusion drawn about the central figure of Zac, whether he is naive or an exploiter. There’s also little in the way of context surrounding where this site sits in the online gay community and also in relation to other adult sites. Coupled with the cheesy music and attention-seeking title, it’s a real shame and a wasted opportunity.Reviewed on: 19 May 2010