Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FILM: Red State

I'm more than a little uncomfortable with the premise of this new Kevin Smith film -- it seems to lazily put into a single video every deep, nascent fear of the "Red States." The title, Red State, refers to politics, not to religious conviction or necessarily extremism. Although the victims seem to me drawn in three dimensions, at least in the trailer it looks like the cult at the center of it is reduced to one dimension: crazy.

That being said, I've also found it strange that so little film response has been made of right-wing extremism -- not from a "we need to speak out on this political issue!" angle, but from a "we need to digest history" perspective. Things like the Waco Texas shooting, or the Oklahoma City bombing, haven't really been investigated in a three-dimensional, "who are these people and how does it happen?" way. It's easy to deal with history through simple documentary (say, how WTC deals with 9/11) or through exploitive action (say, how 24 deals with torture); it's hard to hit the nail on the head with an act of balanced inspection (say, the way Munich deals with counter-terrorism).

It's hard to tell from the trailer how Kevin Smith (who, by the way -- what a sudden and sharp change in tone!) is going to handle it. I worry that it's going to be an inaccurate set of cheap fearmongering with an unrealistic set of "crazy" characters, but -- it's a trailer. I wish I could find the This American Life where they interviewed a polygamist member of a San Diego church reacting to the news that his church founder had brutally murdered one of the women he was living with, but the way in which they strove to really get inside and three-dimensionalize the object of fear is what made it interesting.

(UPDATE: If I've missed some films that take a look at right-wing extremism in a complex way, please please please hook me up! That'd be worth queueing on Netflix!)


isaac butler said...

Given that it's by Kevin Smith. there's a high probability-- almost an inevitability- that it will be shoddily made and full of itself. As both a writer and a director, Kevin smith is like a mildly talented off-off playwright who refuses to revise because Sam Shepherd was awesome and a real man. The only even remotely satisfying film he's made is Mall Rats, which at least is competently filmed and made by someone who understood they were a shlock comedian, not some kind of guru for young white men.

CultureFuture said...

Yeah, I basically agree with all that. But, hell, maybe he can strike gold.

I wrote the post mostly just to navigate my initial recoiling away from something that might be offensive or dismissive, and trying to separate the topic that needs to be discussed -- right wing extremism -- without seeming to lump in non-extremism with extremism. If that makes sense. Needs to be examined, but not lazily.