Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winnebago Man. (2010) Ben Steinbauer

Roger Ebert was right in adding this to his Top Ten Docs of 2010 --
if anything, just to give it more exposure. I wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

While it's nowhere deep enough to include in one of my "Non-lollipop Docs" columns, it is worth seeing, and here's why: It works great as an exposé on anger, or how anger is perceived in a media saturated culture. Watching an old guy curse to the core like the scene we often remember in Planes, Trains & Automobiles is sad and funny at the same time, however, I don't understand the celebration of it at the end of Winnebago Man. Do we really want people to be angry so we can laugh? Do we want them wound up, giving us a hearty guffaw, while not even identifying the anger's source or thinking that words like this might not be healthy for the communal spirit? If you're really that much of a cynic, if you're so jaded you don't see a problem with this, I feel sorry for you. Really, I do.

That is not to say I didn't laugh in places, because I laughed quite hard. But I feel a tad guilty about this kind of laughter, and guilt in this case is justified and OK.

Winnebago Man is an excellent doc. No doubt about it. But there's nothing dug into here, no real heart at its core. In fact, no core; just a hundred or a thousand F-Bombs, with no explanation about the black hole where they come from. To see it and laugh and walk away and not think it through is to live a rather shallow and deluded existence. The film is a great example of a larger cultural problem with the way we choose to laugh when given too much distance due to video; the things we laugh at without knowing anything of the pain in the background. (And not caring about it.)

We're losing our ability to fully think these things through.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I like to respond to comments. If you keep it relatively clean and respectful, and use your name or any name outside of "Anonymous," I will be much more apt to respond. Spam or stupidity is mine to delete at will. Thanks.