By RACHEL MARTIN
On Thursday, March 22, a group of students and members of the Fredericksburg community gathered in the Digital Auditorium of the Hurley Convergence Center to watch the documentary “Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution.” The documentary, directed and produced by Benjamin Nolot with Magic Lantern Pictures, follows a group of college students as they attend spring break in Daytona. In doing so, the documentary exposes the realities behind the current culture of rape and casual sex.
The event on campus was coordinated by junior Abby Steinberg, and was a part of the documentary’s national tour. After the film ended, Nolot and one of the spring breakers, Shay Douglas, sat with Steinberg and her father to answer questions.
The questions started with a hard-hitting one directed at Douglas, who had been one of the predominant guys who had convinced several women to have one-night stands with him and seen no problem with it.
“If there was one thing you could say to those girls, what would it be?” After thinking about it for a moment, Douglas answered in a compelling statement, owning up to and apologizing for his previous actions. Over the course of the documentary, Douglas convinced many girls to have sex with him, and it was stated that there had been many more girls before the documentary was filmed.
“I’m sorry…to express how amazing they are, how intelligent and beautiful they are for who they are,” said Douglas. “Not for their body or what they do with their body or that performance they put on, but to let them know that and see them for the person that they are for their heart…and see them for a human being, a whole human being. Not just for their physical body and what they have put on show for us, but for their intellect for their mind, and for their spiritual side for their entirety of a human.”
Between when the documentary was filmed and when it was finished, Douglas had a conversion and realized how wrong his actions had been. This realization came when he tore his ACL for the third time after that spring break.
“Concerning the friends that you hung out with in the film, I’m sure that they’ve seen the film, I hope they have, and I’m sure that they’ve heard and seen this beautiful transition that you’ve made. I’m really curious to see what their response was,” said another audience member in a statement directed towards Douglas. The audience knew of Douglas’s change of heart but were unaware of what had happened to the friends that he was on spring break with.
“That’s a difficult question,” said Douglas. “Most of my friends, they’re still from the movie and they’ve had children, some of them, and got married. But, some are still stuck in that mindset, and they’re stuck in this way in being in the world that is objectifying to women and dehumanizing and exploiting ultimately the vulnerable out there. It was hard for them to accept the path that I chose of self-honoring, and ultimately, I had to let go of those relationships that were no longer serving my entirety of a human.”
In making the film, Nolot wanted to explore what kind of culture breeds a man into becoming a sex-buyer.
“In the process of that, we went to spring break imagining it would be one small subsection of a larger film,” said Nolot when asked about how he went about depicting the rape and casual sex culture. “The thing that was the turning point for us that shifted it from being a small subsection of a larger film to being the entire film was the issue of sexual violation of woman on spring break. That was something that was totally shocking to us. When we went down to Panama City Beach, we didn’t find a single girl who hadn’t been sexually violated, meaning every girl we talked to conceded that she had been sexually violated there. The last time that we were down there filming, a girl was gang raped on the beach.”
The film can be found on Netflix and has reached many people that way. “Was on Netflix with my buddies tonight and typed in ‘spring break’ thinking we would find some funny, raunchy spring break movie to watch. Ended up clicking play on you guys’ movie and had half of us in tears at the end of it, convicted of thing we’ve done and the sickening culture we’ve encouraged. It breaks my heart to really hear what these girls our age are going through. I’ll be sharing your documentary with whoever I can. Thanks so much. I can honestly say this changed my life,” read one Instagram post about the film.
Amid all the questions for Douglas and Nolot, a question for Steinberg’s father was posed, asking if the film made him more concerned for his daughter’s safety and well-being. “No,” he said. In explaining why not, he shared how much he loves and trusts her.
To watch the documentary, search “Liberated: The New Sexual Revolution” on Netflix. To contact the director and producer for any further questions, follow him on Instagram at @benjinolot