Crip Camp second opinion – from escaping societal prejudices to inspiring activism

March 24, 2020 (Last updated: last month)
Daniel Hart 0
Film Reviews, Netflix


Netflix documentary film Crip Camp is infectious and inspiring, showing a grandstanding moment in history for the disability community in the USA.

Netflix documentary film Crip Camp will be released on the platform on March 25, 2020.

The purpose of Crip Camp is to document two phases in a defining moment in history; escaping societal prejudices within a community of similarities — to then embracing that community and taking on the outside world in the form of revolutionary activism. Both phases triggered each other, they are connected, and they are equally inspiring, representing the community of disabled people.

Crip Camp is a wonderfully crafted documentary that covers dark and light times in civil rights.

Crip Camp firstly puts forward a moment in history in upstate New York. In 1969, Camp Jened was launched, bringing in young people of different disabilities to socialize over the summer without the overprotectiveness of their parents and the frustrating societal prejudices. The Netflix documentary shows a range of fruitful footage, showing a group of teenagers in their own element.

The documentary makes a rather intelligent move by interviewing those people who experienced Camp Jened — their interviews are at the forefront of the documentary, not just the experts or the workers at the time. These people spur the feature.

But the footage is also representative of the times, that the community had to have a specific camp in order to feel socially comfortable and included. Inclusion should be a given, and it’s wild to even consider how inclusion was something that needed to be desperately fought for just because of someone’s circumstances, in this case, disabilities. It’s no coincidence that Crip Camp references Martin Luther King, highlighting that America was absurdly behind in civil rights for many groups of people.

It felt strange to see such a window into the past. Crip Camp is infectious yet saddening; witnessing the freedom of youth and archiving teenage foolishness in a group that needed to be away from the less progressive world. What’s inspiring is watching the same people becoming civil rights activists to fight for inclusion and accessibilities.

The second half the Netflix’s Crip Camp is sobering, as it dawns on the audience that those who participated at Camp Jened were about to leave their aggressive teenage selves and were about to embark into a society that did not consider their disabilities — the group of friends that grow so close in such a small space of time veered on a path to revolutionary activism that fought for rights and acknowledgment.

Netflix documentary Crip Camp is not directed in a special way; it needn’t be. But it is important and becomes one of the best documentaries this year on streaming platforms.

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