I'm a big fan of documentaries. They are far and away my favorite thing to watch. Why? Because I love information. I'll take all of it I can get. However, the best documentaries go beyond just teaching you something you didn't know before; they also make you feel something. Among all the available emotions, my favorite is anger, so it's only natural that my preferred brand of documentary is the kind that makes you mad. The kind that makes Netflix recommend watching March Of The Penguins next, because it knows how pissed off you must be right now. That's my shit. We talk about a few examples on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comic Danielle Soto and Cracked editor Tom Reimann. I'm also going to talk about a few right now. Watch them later! Tell me what you thought of them in the comments section! I'll never read it! Nevertheless, here are five infuriating documentaries you should watch tonight.
5Small Potatoes: Who Killed The USFL?
Hey, while I have you on the line, let's talk about Donald Trump! He did just lock down the GOP presidential nomination in all but the most technical sense, so I reckon he's newsworthy enough right now to merit a mention. And since the next logical step is him running the entire country, it's fitting that we start off by talking about a documentary that offers an advance look at what happens when Donald Trump starts making important decisions.
The ESPN "30 for 30" series has produced some of the most compelling sports documentaries ever, and Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? is, in my opinion, among the best of that great collection of work.
It tells the story of the United States Football League, which lasted three seasons (1983 to 1985) as an upstart competitor to the almighty NFL.
Years of planning went into bringing the league to life. A man named David Dixon first had the idea way back in 1967. He laid out a strategy for building and expanding the league, and then set about finding investors willing to put money behind making it a success. You know, exactly how a business works.
Problems arose almost immediately, but the USFL did experience some success, especially when it came to attracting talent. Their most notable achievement was luring three straight Heisman Trophy winners (Herschel Walker, Mike Rozier, and Doug Flutie) away from the NFL right out of college. Several eventual NFL legends -- like Jim Kelly, Steve Young, and Reggie White -- all started their professional football careers in the USFL as well. Sure, the league lost a shit-ton of money every year they were in existence, but progress was being made.
Enter Donald Trump. After the league's inaugural season, he became owner of the New Jersey Generals franchise.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Should've been called the Commanders. Ha! Get it? Because he'll be Commander In Chief soon! Please kill me!
Almost immediately, he set about changing the one thing that allowed the USFL to somewhat succeed. You see, for those first three seasons, the league played in the Spring, so as to not have to unnecessarily compete with the NFL. Trump wanted that competition, thinking that it would force the NFL into a merger with the USFL. He was one of only two owners who thought it was a good idea initially, but in time, he got the rest of the league to agree.
Surprise! Turns out it was a terrible decision! Trump never got his merger, a frivolous lawsuit ensued, and the league vanished shortly thereafter. So if you're curious as to what Trump's track record is like when it comes to running things with the words "United States" in their name, let this documentary be your guide.
Of course, no discussion about Trump is complete if it doesn't immediately segue into something about people in this country illegally. If you're the type who gets worked up about that kind of thing, then boy do I have a documentary for you ...
Looking to lose all faith in the people responsible for keeping the children of the world safe and secure? Then by all means, give The Imposter a watch sometime. If you're one of those Trump supporters / xenophobes I mentioned in the previous entry, you probably now think I'm going to say this is a documentary about an illegal immigrant who came to the United States to kill kids. You're wrong, and almost certainly super-duper racist. Instead, The Imposter tells the story of a man with an extremely weird obsession. To put it as plainly as possible, he enjoyed tracking down parents who'd reported a missing child and then he would claim to be that missing child.
One particular case is at the center of this documentary. It starts in Spain, with him convincing police that he's just escaped kidnappers who'd used him as a sex slave for the past few years -- a ploy that quickly results in him living with a family in San Antonio, TX, pretending to be a relative who'd gone missing three years earlier at the age of 13. I know, it sounds like movie shit, and like any good movie, that's not even the most interesting part.
"Ma'am, has your son always dressed like a man playing a French terrorist in a movie?"
Hell, it's not even the most infuriating part. That award goes to the baffling series of oversights and mistakes that led to him being able to take the scam that far in the first place. For starters, he refuses to tell police in Spain his name. When they push him on it, he says if they let him sleep in an office overnight, he'll probably remember in the morning ... and they just fucking go for it! That's it. The documentary could've ended there. It could've been called "The Guy Who Scammed His Way Into Sleeping In a Spanish Police Office Overnight" and I'd have been plenty riveted by the details up that point. But it gets so much crazier.
Unsurprisingly, he uses his overnight office time to come up with the identity of a missing kid he can steal. For him, that's the good news. The bad news is that the kid looks absolutely nothing like him -- a problem complicated all the more by the fact that the scammer is in his 20s, but opted to steal the identity of a 16-year-old.
Oh, also their eyes are completely different colors. Yet Spanish authorities accept his story and he makes his way to San Antonio.
I still haven't told you the craziest part, and in the name of not spoiling it, I won't. To give you some idea, though, just know that, despite the glaring differences between him and their lost boy, the family welcomes him with open arms, even after the FBI tells them they shouldn't. Now ... why would they do such a thing? That's the question this documentary truly attempts to answer. The conclusion they eventually come to will ruin your day. Enjoy!