We’ve all been there; silently wishing that the no-talent ass clowns on TV would be wiped off the face of the planet. Surely, the world would be a better place without those fuckers who are so determined to dumb everything down, right? If only we could get rid of these disposable cultural icons, the youtube celebrities, the political cheerleaders and their hordes of twitter followers, then maybe the world would be a better place. And now, thanks to God Bless America, we can see what it would be like to actually take direct action against these people who are destroying our cultural heritage. It’s something of a Natural Born Killers for the jaded cynics of the generations who remember life before mobile phones, before reality TV and talent shows.
Joel Murray is excellent as Frank, our depressed cynic-turned-vigilante. His life is really going to shit. He’s fired from work when his innocent (and seemingly mutual) flirting with a colleague is seen as harassment. Then his doctor tells him he’s got an inoperable brain tumour and not much time to live. And that’s just the start. His own daughter is a spoilt brat, his ex-wife is getting married to young and handsome cop, his neighbours are assholes and to top it all off, there’s nothing but vacuous shit on TV.
So, Frank decides that enough is enough and since he’s dying anyway, he’s got nothing to lose. After killing the obnoxious teenage star of a reality TV show Frank bumps into Roxy, a cynical teenager, who is more than willing to help him on his mission. Roxy is played by Tara Lynn Barre and although she does a good job, her character is not as fleshed-out as Frank’s and on more than one occasion she feels a bit wooden. This is especially a problem during her big rants, which all feel way too scripted. For somereason she reminded me a bit of Alyson Hannigan’s character in American Pie, but a bitter and twisted version. Anyway, she does a good job switching from cute and insecure teenager to cold-blooded killer. It’s just those opinionated rants that come across as a bit insincere and preachy (and definitely to a converted audience).
It all starts of pretty well and it’s easy to relate to both Frank and Roxy. Those other people are annoying and having them removed from the equation feels pretty good. But then after a while I started thinking and before long I couldn’t help but feel that just by liking it I was part of the problem. That we just sit there and laugh at innocent people being killed. OK, innocent by ‘normal’ civilised standards anyway. They might be guilty of contributing to the dumbing-down of our world…but they don’t really deserve to die. And it becomes a problem pretty quickly. She’s a spoilt brat. Boom! She’s dead! Haha! He’s annoying. Boom! Dead! It becomes less and less shocking and by the time of the grand finale, it’s not particularly interesting anymore.
So, I don’t know. I guess we have to ask ourselves who is actually responsible here, the creators, the participators or the audience? Surely the people who watch Big Brother are just as bad, if not worse, than the people actually on the show. At least the people on the show have some sort of ambition, even if it’s just wanting to be famous. The audience on the other hand are quite content just watching people wanting to be famous. Frank does start off the film talking about how great it would be if anyone who’s ever voted in a reality TV show could be permanently marked and therefore easily spotted/avoided in real life. I think that’s a better solution. And surely, isn’t the best and easiest thing we can do is to avoid these shows and not watch that shit? It’s not really that difficult to ignore that part of life. So, if Frank actually was as intellectually and morally superior as he thinks he is, surely he could at least try to do something rather more constructive about it? In the end he’s every bit as lazy as everyone else and and just tries to take the easy way out.
Anyway, the actual film. I did like it. It’s a bit different, it is fun and at least it makes you think. I’m not quite sure who the target audience is, but maybe I’m just not as bitter and cynical as I thought I was. I might despise everything they stand for, but I wouldn’t cheer if someone actually shot Bill O’Reilly when he was out jogging or Simon Cowell during an X Factor final.
But, yes, at the core of God Bless America lies an acute and very important problem – one that is certainly not limited to America. It concerns us all. How can we get rid of these people, the hatemongers, and these TV shows etc etc? Someone needs to come up with a non-violent solution, because it’s all just going to shit.
The BBFC gave God Bless America a 15 rating, which at first seemed a bit strange, but I guess in the end it’s understandable. After all, there’s no nudity here that could corrupt our British youth, just graphic and systematic slaughter of innocent people for comic effect.