For all the good that the internet provides us, it brings a whole lot of crap along with it. While most of us take the internet for its informational qualities, Googling every little thing that we may not know, one of its founding principles is that of connection. The internet is about bringing people together and connecting individuals that may be separated by vast distances. It is this communal space, where thoughts, information, and ideas are passed around. The problem is that there are swaths of people that just inherently suck and the internet also provides an avenue for them to spread their general suckitude to a much larger audience. GTFO focuses on one specific sect of the internet, the video gaming community, and the hateful and vitriolic that has become sadly commonplace.
This is what the film does best, shine the light on the darkest recesses, showing us the huddled leeches that linger.
As each new comment streams in or the next woman recounts terrible verbal abuse and threatened physical violence, your soul becomes more and more depleted. How can a person levy these attacks against strangers? These aren’t acts of self-defense nor a concern for something greater, they are the impulsive responses of entitled bratty boys that do not have the cognitive wherewithal to string together a grammatically sound sentence. This is what the film does best, shine the light on the darkest recesses, showing us the huddled leeches that linger. Let us not call the women that stand up for their own human rights feminists. They should not be labeled, there is no reason to push them into some bin that we must cordon off and minimize. In fact, should the status quo not be feminist, wherein we all refuse to treat another differently based on gender alone? Instead let’s call the attackers exactly what they are: sexists.
Even in its slim runtime, director Shannon Sun-Higginson is so good at getting the audience riled up. She uses the attackers’ own words to paint the picture, being sure to present primary evidence before even beginning to delve into the far more personal and psychological aspects of the hate. There is a note of shock even in her presentation. How could these people exist? More to the point, how can we just let them? Regardless of your gender, Sun-Higginson has you putting yourself in the place of the numerous victims shown. These are just people looking to take part in something that they enjoy. They have been reduced to a violently sexualized model of ineptitude by the pervasive idiocy that self-proclaims them the keeper of all that is sacred. The misguided and absurd lengths that these trolls go to is beguiling in its ridiculous devotion. You fume with each new cut until you get to the point of anger saturation.
That very saturation is where the film begins to lose some of its steam. It has spent so much of its energy vividly painting this picture of disgraceful sexism that it really hasn’t done much else. Sun-Higginson has used up so much time setting the landscape but still hasn’t figured out exactly what to do with it once it has begun to rest. Her subjects begin to repeat stories and the whole affair sounds one-sided. The attackers get to remain faceless and are left looming in the background. A small offshoot shows us non-monstrous male gamers and while welcomed, it feels slight. Sun-Higginson has won us over, convinced us that this a problem that must be stopped, but then fails to make the necessary next leap. We are left enraged and somewhat defeated. The many anonymous cretins continue to drool out obscenities and sexism while we just seethe in anger.
With these issue films, is the issue enough? For the sanctity of the medium, it just can’t be.
As the film folds onto itself, repeating and aimlessly circling the drain, it brings to light many of its other deficiencies. Aside from the well-made intertitles, which occasionally verge on the too cutesy, much of the film is pretty rough to look at. There is no cohesion to the execution and the camerawork varies between subjects. The sound drifts up and down and at times the picture just plain seems out of focus. Despite the importance of its subject matter, for long stretches GTFO just isn’t a very well-composed film.
This brings us to another question. With these issue films, is the issue enough? For the sanctity of the medium, it just can’t be. Director Shannon Sun-Higginson does a fantastic job of bringing to light just how abhorrent and consuming this sub-culture can be. She raises the viewer’s temperature to a fever pitch, but then doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. The stories repeat themselves to the point where they nearly lose their power, a troubling notion in and of itself. Compounding the problems is the film’s bland and often lacking visual aesthetic. GTFO is the type of film that you should see simply because you should be aware of the problem. However, its minuscule structure and amateurish execution prevent it from being one that you remember for much more than the anecdotes of disgraceful hate.
GTFO is the type of film that you should see simply because you should be aware of the problem. However, its miniscule structure and amateurish execution prevent it from being one that you remember for much more than the anecdotes of disgraceful hate.