Saturday, January 10, 2009


I just watched a tremendous documentary from 2007 called Resolved. It follows two high-school debate teams and explores the unique challenges they face in winning the ultimate trophy at the Tournament of Champions (no, seriously.) The first is the affluent Highland Park High School in white, suburban Texas. Sam is a brilliant but underachieving senior, and Matt is the precocious sophomore taking seniors' positions, shocking the high-school circuit, and pissing off his competition. The second (the film's true protagonist) team hails from Long Beach in poor, urban California, where Richard and Louis found debate after years spent fighting, chasing girls, and doing things that, in their words, would have eventually led them "dead or in jail." Rather than debating policy points, the two seniors openly flaunt debate traditions, refusing to wear suits to competitions (the Tupac-emblazoned jeans are a great piece of clothing) and openly challenging the inherent racism and elitism of the entire debate system. I won't tell you who wins, but this documentary sucks you in with its surprising suspense and deft examination of the many factors in this complex, time-consuming activity (I hate calling it a sport.) And you won't believe how fast they talk (termed "spread," for speed read)--it took me a few minutes to realize the debate footage hadn't been sped up. I promise that this is so much more than just a quirky story on a strange subculture. Watch it right now.



Tyler said...

Is there a link where we can watch this?

Jess and Josh said...

I wish! It may be on Surf the Channel or one of those sights, but I watched it on HBO On Demand. A little digging should turn something up. Good luck and keep us posted, cuz I'd like to be able to watch it again in the future.


Duncan said...

This is a really good documentary. I debated for 7 years (spreading), and this film is one of the most important things I've seen or heard about the activity.