A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cam is a 2018 feature about a woman who brings live sex-content video shows to viewers of a members-only website. That the mostly male audience is masturbating while watching is implied. Bared breasts and behinds, spankings, and faked suicides are all featured for sexual titillation. A woman bangs her head against a desk causing a broken nose and bleeding. A man is seen from behind masturbating while watching a show. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "whore," "horny," "clit," "pee," "t-t," and "ass." A woman uses a stun gun to bring down someone she thinks is going to attack her. A man tries to rape a woman and she bites his hand to get free. A woman in lace underwear appears to slit her throat for an audience of men egging her on to kill herself. Another woman shoots herself with a gun. Blood spurts everywhere from the wound. "I want to cut your p---y open," a viewer tells Lola. Viewers post, "Go ahead, kill yourself."
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What's the story?
CAM introduces the exotic Lola (Madeline Brewer), in reality Alice Ackerman from New Mexico, on her FreeGirls.Live channel, doing a live "show," in her panties and a short open jacket that offers glimpses of her breasts. She's thinking up ways to entice her viewers to post comments and pay her tips in "tokens," half of which go to the web administrator running the online service. She is vying against other woman around the country to be in the top 50. They bare their breasts, put dildos in various orifices, and ask their viewers what they'd like to see. Violence is a popular item, so Lola slits her own throat, apparently dying on screen, bleeding out of her jugular. Then she pops up and thanks the guys for watching. When her younger brother's friends discover Alice's work, her hairdresser mother (Melora Walters) finds out. The brother is angry and embarrassed, but the mother is strangely supportive. Some of Lola's regular viewers occasionally come to visit her from far-off places. One seems to try to rape her in a restroom but she runs off after biting his hand. Another moves to be near her. When she's mysteriously locked out of her account and discovers a lookalike doing her show from a set identical to hers, she goes into detective mode, but the clues seem to lead to an army of bots taking over the channel. The website's customer service is useless, as are the police. One ogling officer observes that it's too bad she doesn't have sex with her viewers. Ultimately, she decides on an online showdown with fake Lola and she almost literally shoots herself in the foot in order to bring her double down.
Is it any good?
This movie seems to think it's telling the story of a sex worker who has dignity, but it's actually telling the story of a sex worker who handles every problem stupidly. Much of the plot makes no sense. In a world of rampant faked violent deaths, why resort to true self-mutilation in the quest to hurt someone or something else? Cam promotes the idea that the stigma once attached to exhibitionism and self-obsession is dated and obsolete, offering the frightening alternative message that being watched is a desirable social norm. Cam feels like a sci-fi thriller about a future dystopia in which any child with fake ID can broadcast live and nude from a bedroom and cater to sadomasochistic porn consumers. The trouble is the movie proves that future dystopia is already here.
The movie also suggests that compared to the extreme end -- snuff films and child porn -- a little self-display is perfectly respectable. In a post-shame world with easy access to cheap technology, everyone can imagine him or herself a star, admired by throngs, no matter how much self-degradation stardom requires. That Alice's mother actually supports her career choice may be the film's most alarming element. Without any other point of view provided by the director, Cam feels like an approving how-to manual on sexting for the masses. Parents may want to advise teens to steer clear.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what motivates people to become sex workers. Does Cam make a distinction between those who turn to such work out of desperation and others who willingly choose it? How do you think this movie wants sex workers to be viewed?
The movie has mature themes, like suicide and linking sex and violence. Who is the movie's intended audience? What is the movie saying about these themes?
Does the movie show consequences for the risky behavior on display? What would be the real-life consequences of participating in this type of behavior?
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