Letter to the editor | Film fails to tell the story

January 3, 2014 

I was disappointed and disturbed by the movie “365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley.”

I expected an intelligent, balanced documentary about the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal upon this community. Instead, it seems that the film’s primary agenda was to chronicle the perseverance of the Nittany Lions in the wake of the NCAA sanctions and the outrage surrounding Joe Paterno’s firing.

Only Alycia Chambers, the therapist for one of the victims who raised a red flag about Sandusky in 1998, spoke about the victims’ experiences.

Unfortunately, her thoughtful, compassionate statements were nearly lost amid the voices of Paterno apologists. (Although these may be the loudest voices in the community, they do not represent the community as a whole.)

Filmmaker Erik Proulx and and writer/producer Eric Porterfield have professed their sensitivity to the film’s effect upon the victims, yet its lack of focus suggests insensitivity. More attention was given to footage of football plays and Michael Mauti’s injury than to the suffering of boys and young men whose lives were damaged by Sandusky’s abuse.

This film was not meant to be a documentary about the victims. However, no sensitive account of this tragic story should give the impression that in this community, the victims’ suffering is secondary to the pain of Paterno’s tarnished legacy and fans’ diminished hopes for a winning season.

Could the near-invisibility of the victims’ experiences in this film reflect a culture that looks away from the reality and prevalence of child abuse because it makes us uncomfortable? And isn’t that, in part, what got us here?

Where is the collective outrage about this?

Cindy MacNab, Pennsylvania Furnace

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