Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bitchumentaries

Nathan Rabin has a request for documentary filmmakers: Stop appearing in your films already! He ties this weird practice back to Michael Moore, although it might also come from 60 Minutes or Candid Camera (seemingly two influences on Moore himself). Lately, documentarians haven't just been asking questions from off-camera; they've given themselves central roles in their films, often staging outlandish stunts in the vein of Jackass to critique capitalism, or get attention- whichever works better.

On one hand, I'm thrilled to see so many documentaries coming out. I love a good documentary, especially when it's about something that I have no knowledge of, or a part of the world that I've never seen. A great documentary can achieve a level of honesty that few films reach.

On the other hand, I haven't got a lot of interest in seeing the recent wave of muckraking documentaries. It's not that I worry about their factual accuracy, because after all, I adore the documentaries that Herzog has done, knowing that he often stages scenes in them. Also, the complaints that people make about the Muckumentaries often seem quibbling. I don't honestly care if Michael Moore editted his shots out of chronological order or not. Actually, I don't honestly care about Michael Moore one way or the other.

What bothers me about the documentaries of Moore's epigoni is that I already know what they're going to say before I rent them. I tend not to read books whose argument I can guess from the title. It seems like there are a lot of documentaries that I can pretty much take a guess on. "Super Size Me" likely makes the argument that McDonald's sucks. "This Film is Not Yet Rated" probably argues that the MPAA sucks. "Wall Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices"- I'm guessing it argues that Wall-Mart sucks. I did actually see "The Corporation", and yep- it argues that Corporations suck.

I mean, I'm all for letting people make these Bitchumentaries; but, for God's sake, isn't there more to human experience than 'the take down'? A lot of times I feel like we've forgotten how to live, but have no ability to conceptualize dying. There's something that plays like lousy Beckett in our obsessive need to construct bullet points about our daily annoyances, with little to no understanding of the reality beyond and outside of those annoyances.

2 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

Documntarians should follow the Alfred Hitchcock model. Eveybody knew he was going to show up at one point,looked for it, and looked forward to it. The thought of Michael Moore suddenly popping up is enough to make you squirm and scream.

Rufus said...

Moore has the same problem as the rest for me. His next movie is supposed to be about the pharmaceutical industry. So, I'm assuming it will be about how 'Big Pharma' sucks. Wowee.