Scout's Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America (2023)

Scout's Honor: The Secret Files of the Boy Scouts of America (2023)

An urgent if ordinary documentary that overwhelms with its horrific anecdotes and data



United States of America
Crime, Documentary
95 min


Yeah, just burn all these cherished good-old American institutions to the ground at this point.

What it's about

A deep-dive into the extensive history of sexual abuses against children at the hands of the Boy Scouts of America, as told by survivors and investigators.

The take

Depressingly, Scout's Honor isn't necessarily an exposé about the crimes of the Boy Scouts of America because—as the documentary reminds us—this institution has been caught red-handed many times over since its inception, and yet it evades real accountability. The film is more like a renewed call for justice, with its approach being one of blunt force. This means that the documentary can be sloppy, piling on one case after another without much synthesis, and taking out its anger on one current representative of the Boy Scouts, whom the filmmakers constantly interrupt and interrogate during his interview, That said, it's also hard to object to this kind of approach, as the patterns of abuse become too damning to ignore. Maybe a different film will be able to unpack the systems that allow the Boy Scouts to get away with this, but for now this cry of rage is enough.

What stands out

It seems like a bit of a no-brainer that a documentary like this should focus more on victims than perpetrators. But with the amount of true crime docs that are too fascinated by the people who inflict so much psychological and sexual violence on others, it's refreshing to see a film that almost entirely centers survivors. Hearing these adult or middle-aged men step forward with their stories of abuse (some of them for the first time in their lives) is incredibly moving, and it's a relief that they haven't been forced to share space in a movie with the kinds of people responsible for their years—maybe even decades—of silent suffering.


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