Every time something terrible happens in our society these days, some politician or talking head on a political show proceeds to play what I like to refer to as the “TV Corruption” card. Frankly, that’s a bunch of BS from people who will blow so much smoke up your Snoopy that you’ll sound like you’ve smoked a pack a day when you’ve never picked up a cigarette.

But that is an article (or angry blog rant) for a later day.

No matter which side of that argument you lean toward there is an art form that is highly educational: the documentary. The great thing about documentaries is that they cover the gamut of life and topics. No matter what you’re interested in, you can find a documentary that will teach you something about your interests that you never knew before.

Turns out the ol' "idiot box" isn't so dumb after all.

If you think documentaries are boring, then you’re throwing a blanket statement out there and I’m guessing have never truly taken the time to sit down and check out a few. Allow me to help you unenlightened fans of mine (all two of you) and get you started with several that will help educate you more about the world we live in today, and will keep you engaged – maybe even entertained as well.

Bowling for Columbine (2002): No matter what you think about Michael Moore and his current politics (some would say craziness), this is one of the more stark documentaries you’ll ever see. Released over a decade ago, this is still very current considering violent events involving guns that have taken place recently – especially the Sandy Hook incident. If you’ve asked yourself “how can this happen” when something like Sandy Hook occurs, you owe it to yourself to educate yourself with this one. Plus, the irony of giving away a gun for opening an account at a bank would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disturbing.

Ken Burns’ Baseball (1994): Alright, so you don’t want anything overly political and you’re a sports nut. This one is for you. But first, a warning: This comes in a boxed set and is over 18 hours long. So unless you are up for a monumental task, I don’t recommend trying to knock this one out in one sitting. Be kind to your brain and break it up over several days. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, if you’ve ever wanted to know everything there is to know about baseball – or you want your burgeoning athlete to know – you have to devour this one (and probably take notes). Burns takes you on an amazing history of baseball that only the baseball Hall of Fame could rival. He even did a follow-up to this in 2010 to update the current status of baseball. (Hello, steroid era!)

March of the Penguins (2005): You’re not a sports fiend and political enlightenment sounds like your own personal idea of hell? Try this one on for size. You can learn some fascinating things about the struggle to survive in the harshest climate in the world. As an added bonus you can watch this one with your kids, teach them about nature, and it’s narrated by Morgan Freeman to boot. And unlike the epic journey you need to take with Burns’ documentary, this one is under an hour-and-a-half.

Woodstock (1969): The same blowhards I mentioned in my opening paragraph would also like you to believe that the music people listen to today encourages terrible behavior. (Care to guess what I think of that one?) But if you’re a music fan, especially if you love outdoor concerts like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and our own recently-started local one, Bunbury, then you have to see the originator of the outdoor rock festival. Okay, so it wasn’t the first outdoor rock festival in the world, I’m sure. But it certainly can be argued that it has been the most influential – considering it is still mentioned with reverence for both its music and the feelings it inspired in turbulent times over 40 years ago. And who doesn’t want to spend a couple of hours watching vintage footage and listening to the music of Hendrix, Joplin, The Who, Santana, and more?

Man on Wire (2008): Is thrill-seeking or extreme adventure your game? You should take a gander at this documentary. It tells the story of one of the original thrill seekers, Philippe Petit, who spent 45 minutes dancing, saluting, and walking around on a wire strung in-between the Twin Towers in New York. Today they make publicity stunt reality television out of such things. But in 1974 it was illegal, he was arrested for it, and when asked why he would do such a crazy thing provided one of the all-time best answers to stupid questions. Considering we all know what happened on 9/11, there is an interesting nostalgia factor to this as well.

These are just some of the wide, wide world of documentaries. As you become more educated, you’ll find documentaries honing in on even more specific topics. Were you a big Pete Rose fan when he played? A buddy of mine and his company have you covered. Are you into grilling and barbeque? There’s a new documentary underway that will help you out there by taking a look at the world of competitive barbeque competitions (trailer can be found here).

No matter how obscure your interest is, there is a documentary out there waiting to enlighten you.

Until next time, gentlemen…