More of a Comment, Really…: Penny Lane Talks about Morgellons, Online Isolation, and “The Pain of Others”

The Pain of Others

The documentary filmmaker talks about picking her subjects and investigating the strange allure of online communities in her body-horror doc.

More of a Comment Really

Welcome back to More of a Comment, Really…, a weekly interview show hosted by Clint Worthington! Every episode will feature interviews with actors, filmmakers, producers, and more, giving you the skinny on the latest films and TV.

Documentary filmmaker Penny Lane often focuses on the abject and unconventional, from three White House aides’ view of Richard Nixon in Our Nixon to the cult of personality around famous early 20th-century huckster Dr. John Romulus Brinkley in her excellent doc Nuts!. Her latest, The Pain of Others, focuses on a horrifyingly contemporary concern: the power of the Internet to both amplify existing paranoias and create self-affirming communities for those fears to exist.

Penny Lane
Penny Lane, Photo credit: Joseph Michael Lopez

The subjects of Lane’s doc are three women – all older, all relatively isolated – with a delusional belief in a mysterious skin condition called Morgellons, characterized by mysterious itching and strange fibers that grow out of their skin. There is no scientific evidence that Morgellons exists, and mainstream medicine largely relegates it to the level of conspiracy theory. But for these women, it’s real, and they have the Youtube videos to prove it. Lane’s doc is a fascinating exploration of body horror, and the lengths to which the Internet and social media can legitimize even the wildest worldviews, as long as there’s passionate people with a platform to boost the signal.

For the podcast, Clint sits down with Lane to talk about Morgellons, her doc, and her observations of her deeply fascinating subjects. Take a listen to the full podcast below, and stream The Pain of Others on Fandor.

More of a Comment, Really… is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Lagunitas for sponsoring this episode!)

The Pain of Others Trailer
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Clint Worthington

Clint Worthington is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Spool, as well as one of the founders of the website/podcast Alcohollywood in 2011. He is also a Senior Writer at Consequence of Sound, as well as the co-host/producer of Travolta/Cage. You can also find his freelance work at IndieWire, UPROXX, Syfy Wire, The Takeout, and Crooked Marquee.

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