Excerpt taken from “Escaping Ourselves” : Jennifer Matotek 2006
Suzanne Thompson’s video, The Identity of Suzannet, opens in her favorite Parkdale neighbourhood bar. She explains, as the narrator, that her documentary “was never a documentary” but “a story (she) wanted to tell”. She explains how she intended the film to be a documentary about an ex-convict nick-named “Mad Dog” – then explains how after he backed out, she decided to take a road trip to Texas, traveling with a friend to visit people they’ve known for years in chat rooms, but have never met in person. Suzanne says that she had always felt her online personality, Suzannet, was a separate identity and thought that this trip would be an opportunity to ‘try out’ her virtual identity in real life. But in the end, it can be argued that her story truly is the documentary that she fears it is not as she approaches the story about a specific time in her own life with the same insight and intensity as if “Mad Dog” had consented to be her subject. And although her documentary/story claims to be about the realization that her on and off-line personas are not two different identities, it can be argued that her film goes against itself by creating a series of unintended identities: the Suzanne who once lived in Parkdale; the Suzanne who went on a road trip across the US; and the Suzanne who is the film’s narrator.