Making every effort to avoid going on another rant here, I watched two documentaries this weekend, one on Tom's recommendation called Collapse and Videocracy, a new doc about Italian pop culture and its connection to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's media empire. In order to stay positive and not succumb to my natural negative vibe (you know, the “we're fucked” one), I'm going to reverse the order in which I watched these and tackle Videocracy first.
Videocracy is an intriguing and disturbing film from director Erik Gandini that paints a nightmarish vision of contemporary Italy. For a country that produced so much beauty during its long history, it may come as a bit of a shock just how garish, crass and horrible a huge swath of modern Italian culture has been reduced to. Gandini makes a strong case that under media tycoon/prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's ancient cultures and customs have been supplanted by a stunning circus of cheesey celebutainment that makes the worst of U.S reality TV programming look like a Bergman film. If you ever wondered how mainstream American TV could get any worse, look no further than the Italian television landscape where Mr Berlusconi's company, Mediaset, owns three TV stations and indirectly controls two of the three publicly-run stations.
A quick glance at the trailer of Videocracy gives a taste for the traffic-accident-horror that awaits the viewer. It's mind-boggling just how low the bar gets set in this cultural limbo dance to the death.
But I said I was going to remain positive and that's where the second film comes in. Collapse is a talking head documentary with a single talking head, Mike Ruppert. Ruppert is a possibly-insane, chain-smoking retired L.A. cop who takes the viewer on a end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it odyssey that connects declining oil reserves with the collapse of everything we know. According to Crazy-Mike, nothing will be spared – food production, transportation, energy, politics, housing, jobs, populations, economies and society are all on the brink of catastrophic implosion because we're on the back-slope of easy oil recovery. The low hanging fruit has been picked and it's about to get a whole lot tougher to do anything and everything. Ruppert is a completely fascinating character, part modern-Nostradamus and part immensely-articulate madman, I'm just not sure how much of each.
If he's right and we're all heading into a prolonged head-first, free-fall into the shitter, one of the important upsides is Italian schlock-TV will cease to broadcast and the scumbag Robini Hood from the above trailer will be broke, making the world (and particularly Italy) a much better place to live. We'll all be so busy trying to figure out how to yoke the oxen that nobody will have time to watch 6' blonde Italian chicks with big boobs prance around a glittering stage for 8 hours every day.
How's that for looking at the bright side? There's always a silver lining, even in the end of mankind as we know it.
Does anyone know any Mennonites?