Streaming: ‘Roll Red Roll’

“Roll Red Roll” is a worthwhile, if hard to stomach, documentary on the inner workings of Steubenville, Ohio, where several high school football players participated in the sexual assault of an incapacitated classmate in 2012. Director Nancy Schwartzman interviews townsmen and women, young and old, and finds a consensus that they’d rather not have their fall Friday nights disrupted.

The city’s motto is apparently “I’m not condoning it, but…” until blogger Alexandra Goddard began a one-woman quest to help Steubenville find its conscience. Her screengrabs of the busy social media streams of the rapists and their enablers drew the attention of the national media, as well as the hacktivist group Anonymous.

The film does a good job of examining football “brotherhood,” in which the response to a teammate being arrested and charged with sexual assault is, “Damn, we’re down a quarterback.” Taped interrogations reveal that when confronted the football players show an unnerving lack of empathy and willingness to lie under oath. They get the impudence from their reprehensible head coach, who claims that suspending the players being investigated would have made them look guilty, so he declined to do so.

“Roll Red Roll” reveals that, despite the dissenting voices of some Steubenvillans, American rape culture shows no sign of abating. Come late August, it’s time to bury the past and kick off that football.

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