I’m Goin’ to the Bingo...or Maybe I’ll Just Stay Home and Watch Bingo! The Documentary
Reaching into the vault of not-so-ancient documentaries, we find Bingo! The Documentary a mostly light-hearted look at the world of bingo players.
I admit it...FCE and I are slackers. There are just bunches of things we say “why don’t we try that, it’ll be funny,” but never do. One of the more recent things was the weekly bingo game held in the Maggie Valley pavilion--which was a short distance from our house. The idea came up every once in a while, and during the three years we lived there, we never carried through. That’s an indication of just how interested we were.
In 1999, filmmaker John Jeffcoat focused his documentary eye on bingo culture and those who engage in what for some is a harmless diversion and for others is a major compulsion. In Bingo! The Documentary we meet two men who were addicts, are now sober, and play bingo. We wonder, is bingo just a substitute addiction for them? We also meet a lot of women (none especially young) who enjoy the “night out” or social aspect of going to the bingo hall (and we learn a brief history of the game).
Mental health professionals were interviewed for the film, and one discusses the problems of bingo, and the danger signs of it being an unhealthy addiction (how often does one play?, for how long?, with whose money?). However, another describes the different activities players engage in during a night of bingo and says, “ I just don't see how it could be anything but helpful cognitively...I'd better take it up.”
Bingo serves a social need in the lives of many people (apparently elderly widows would have no outside life without it), and bingo halls are little communities unto themselves. Bingo! The Documentary was filmed in those hotbeds of bingo-playing, the United States, England, and Scotland.Continued on the next page