God Spede ye Plough, and send us Korn enow.

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?



the coelacanth said...

tom keeps pushing collapse on me as well. i might just have to watch it. one of these winters.

both of these docs sound scary, a good warm up to the impending october "IBTLALLH" juggernaut. i'm sorry, there are just too many z-grade 80s slashers and sub-par 70s eurohorrors out there to watch - i don't think i'll ever have time for these "important" films.

Q: collapse - a primer for the coming end, or something to watch so you can simply say "i told you so" when it does inevitably come? i'm officially over these preachy enviro docs. look upon your video spawn, al gore, and despair.

La Sporgenza said...

Good question Joe. Collapse is definitely a summary of the sky-is-falling contrarian view of the world, but what elevates it above the preachy-goo of so many movies of this ilk is Ruppert himself. The man is fascinating, partly because he so clearly believes the end is nigh (and presents such extremely-articulate arguments in support of this contention), but mostly because he's just so fucking spent. He's worn out, alone, paranoid and smokes constantly. Christ, even his dog looks tired.

If you approach Collapse as a revealing character study rather than a 90-minute end-of-the-world soliloquy, there is much to revel in here. I'd be tempted to pop in Collapse between Satan's Baby Dolls (1980) and Deranged (1971).

Just a suggestion.

Videocracy, on the other hand, doesn't deliver much beyond what you get in the trailer, just more of it. Unless you want to witness the complete collapse of a once-glorious nation into the dreary, boob-tube snog-fest it's become, give it a pass.

the coelacanth said...

yeah, you're right - that's probably the way to approach it: more fog of war, less 11th hour.

that videocracy trailer is crazed. i'll heed your suggestion and pass on the feature - don't know how much of that madness i'd want to subject myself to.

i'd watch deranged again and again, but one pass through satan's baby doll was enough for me, thank you very much.