Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Evolution of the Errol Morris Audience (Chez Buce Division)

Il Teatro Buce indulged in a screening of Errol Morris' Tabloid the other night.  That's the one about hormone-poisoned former beauty queen who did or did not kidnap a Mormon missionary to make him her sex toy and I am shameless enough to say I enjoyed every moment of it.  Not a shred of redeeming social value of course, unless you count it as instruction in how far the  camera can press the outer limits of vulgar and tacky.

As it happens I watched it in the same room as I occupied to watch my first Errol Morris film 20-odd years ago--Thin Blue Line, about a wrongful death sentence.  Let's stipulate that TBL  had a ton of redeeming social value--saving, as it did, the life of an innocent man, but also exposing the moral bankruptcy of one slice of the criminal justice system.

But there is an inconsistency in my own response on which I want to linger for a moment here.  That is: I remember being uncomfortable with and irritated by so many of the manipulative production tricks in the earlier film, whereas I seem to be far less offended by the cruder and even more manipulative tricks of the later.  What, exactly, is going on here?  Am I just getting crass(er) in my old age?  Does the sheer blatancy of the manipulation in the new item turn it all into comedy?  Or is it that Morris and his ilk have dulled all our sensibilities: persuaded us that it really doesn't matter what you put into a "documentary," still its primary purpose is to entertain?

Still working on them.  Meanwhile, it appears that one person who fails to see the humor is the star of the show (and a side issue: how the hell has she been paying the bills all these years?).  

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