Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Litmus for Authenticity

I haven't written anything substantial in a long time. I'm a little afraid of that. Writing isn't like riding a bike, and in all honesty, I'm not entirely persuaded riding a bike is like riding a bike. Without practice and persistence in life, I think we each may simply melt into a puddle of loosely sentient flesh.

That being said, you may just as likely melt while watching this video.

From what I can gather, this group broadcasts on public access cable in central Florida.

The lack of sophistication reminds me oddly of Napoleon Dynamite. Their whole existence is anachronistic. I mean, if you had to guess, when might you place this broadcast on a timeline? They're also local, but without location. While P.T. Katt and M. Gormley are in Florida, they could as easily be in any rural minor American locale. The same is true of Jared and Jerusha Hess' most recent work, Gentlman Broncos.

Again, the characters are only vaguely aware of themselves. They lack the proverbial mirror to actually see themselves as others see them.

There is a character in Gentlemen Broncos who would be right at home on the "Uncharted Zone". Lonnie Donaho talks about "the industry" and his "feature films" shot on a home VHS camcorder. He might also get along well with the proprietor of this local outfit.

These men are AUTHENTICALLY poor performers in a way that I am entirely incapable of, in a way that I doubt can be duplicated by parody (Save by Jared Hess). I could not make something this bad if I tried. They'll never win awards or critical acclaim. They'd be lucky to come close to covering their costs, though they just might from gawkers paying money to see what is, by most accounts, an absolute train wreck. They seem to be entirely unaware of any developments in their field over the last twenty to thirty years. What's more, they are either OBLIVIOUS to or genuinely Do Not Care what people think of their work.

I can't tell if these are the most remarkable examples of hubris I've ever seen, or the complete absence. They don't presume to elevate their work over others, or even to compare. By all appearances they are doing this for their own enjoyment. If anybody else cares to watch, that's simply a bonus.

Hubris or not, regard for others work or none, these two groups present the most undeniable, clear cases of authenticity anywhere in media I know of. They are transparently bad, but you know it isn't a joke to them. Nobody would invest the time necessary to produce so much ostensibly unremarkable work. In being so transparent, they're also more true than almost any mainstream electronic culture. It's made by and for them and theirs. And that's tremendous.

Michel Gondry seems to understand this in a way many other filmmakers don't. It's reflected in his movies, and I love his movies.

1 comment:

Emily said...

Hi there. You're right, I melted watching the music video.