American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself TV Poster Image
Docu about a divided America has violence, cursing.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It highlights how divided the United States is and the various issues and communities on both sides of the political and economic spectrum. Racism, classicism, and issues relating to things like environmentalism, gun control, reproductive rights, COVID-19, and related issues are discussed. 

Positive Role Models

Angry, frustrated people are shown from different sides of the political and economic spectrum. President Trump is sometimes shown or heard giving inflammatory and racist statements, and many of his supporters echo these statements. 

Violence

There are lots of scenes featuring angry protests, people pushing and shoving, and police officers pepper spraying protestors. People are arrested. Stacks of cremation boxes and gurneys with with corpses are visible (some with visible body parts showing). A recording of the final moments of George Floyd’s life while being arrested is shared. A woman is shown spitting in a young man’s face. 

Sex

Brief scenes from a live drag show are shown. On one occasion, someone is shown making lewd gestures. 

Language

Words like "pissed," "hell," "crap," etc. Curses including "s--t" and "f--k" are frequently used, and rude gestures are visible.  

Consumerism

Logos for YouTube, Adidas, sports franchises, Las Vegas hotels, etc. visible throughout. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and cigarette smoking is occasionally visible. Ads for alcohol are shown. Addiction is discussed, and addicts are seen on sidewalks. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself is a documentary that reveals how divided the United States is a year leading up to the 2020 Presidential election season. Directed by Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi), the issues addressed range from racism, classicism, and environmentalism, to gun control, reproductive rights, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Angry exchanges (yelling, insults, shoving, spitting), orderly and violent protests, and police brutality (including the audio recording of George Floyd’s final moments in police custody and images of military police shooting tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protestors) is visible. Words including "pissed," "hell," and "crap" are used, as well as profanity like "s--t" and "f--k." People drink alcohol, make lewd gestures, and smoke cigarettes. Logos for MAGA, YouTube, Adidas, Las Vegas hotels, and other establishments are visible. 

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What's the story?

Written, directed, and produced by Alexandra Pelosi, AMERICAN SELFIE: ONE NATION SHOOTS ITSELF is a documentary that captures the political, economic, and social divide of America. From the release of the new iPhone in September 2019, to then-President Trump’s controversial 2020 Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore, Pelosi spends a year traveling around the country to talk to people from both sides of the divide about what is happening in the United States. Her camera captures Black Lives Matter marches, panicked shoppers buying food when the pandemic begins to spread in the U.S., and individuals who have been left behind by a system that is, in theory, supposed to treat everyone equally. She also interviews people who are reacting and responding to the unprecedented events that are defining the end of the decade. Archive audio and video footage of Trump MAGA rallies, excerpts of speeches, and significant events recorded on people's cell phones round out the overall narrative. 

Is it any good?

This thought-provoking, and disturbing, documentary serves as a snapshot, or "selfie," that captures the country in a moment of high turmoil. It showcases how strongly divided people are over issues ranging from immigration to gun control, as well as more recent efforts to get people to wear masks to curb the spread of COVID-19. It also reveals the inability of people on both sides to discuss these issues civilly. As the tensions grow higher across the country, so does the violence, and the narrative moves quickly from candid interviews and imagery of political activism to on-going scenes of angry clashes between protestors, images of police brutality, and the frustrated shouts of people left with few options as they lose jobs, homes, and hope. 

Some may argue that Pelosi (daughter of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi) approaches these issues with a liberal bias. Scenes showing Trump supporters chanting anti-immigrant rants and folks arguing against COVID-19 government restrictions are juxtaposed with scenes of people who are suffering first hand from the consequences of this rhetoric. But it does point to the ironies (like pro-environmentalists leaving litter behind after a climate change march) on the left side of the divide. Meanwhile, it’s impossible to hide the disconnect between what the White House is communicating to the public and the realities Americans are capturing on their cell phones every day. American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself isn’t an easy watch, but it offers a lot of insight into the state of the country leading up to the official start of the 2020 presidential campaign. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about some of the reasons the United States is so divided. What does American Selfie: One Nation Shoots Itself show us about the willingness of people on each side of the political, economic, and social spectrum to speak to each other about these divisions? What needs to happen in order to narrow the divide?

  • What role does media play in dividing a country? How can media help people from different walks of life and different points of view come together to talk about difficult issues, like race or the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Have you engaged in civil discourse with individuals whose opinions differ from yours? If so, what did you learn? If not, can you strive to do so and have a respectful conversation that reflects both points of view?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love political documentaries

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