Friday, March 5, 2010

We Live in Public

"We Live in Public" fits into the "subject matter transcending the style of the director, etc." category that's been the case with the documentaries I've seen this year. This film always has a music track going, displays information fast and furiously, and, as the phrase goes, "feels a little slight." Yet, as with "The Cove" and "Food, Inc," we have (as many have said) "a shocking subject." Josh Harris, touted as "the greatest internet pioneer you've never heard of," is (as my friend as I as well as Harris himself agree) "emotionally disturbed," having grown up watching "Gilligan's Island," and having a shaky relationship with his family. He grows up to be (as IMDB as well as the film state) "a dot com kid," and the head of Pseudo, which apparently invented the whole idea of chatting and watching a video at the same time. He also got into the whole idea of creating sexual chat-rooms. But this was the least of him.

After he totally destroyed his relations with the company (perhaps intentionally) by dressing up as a clown named Luvvy and "conducting business that way," he went off on an offshoot and decided to do something ridiculous and ultimately (as my friend said) "cruel." He made "a society in an underground bunker in New York City" called Quiet, where people had to commit and stay for a period of 30 days (or at least that's how long it lasted). He is quoted in the film as saying he will record "Stasi-type intelligence" and this is furthered by the fact that he has all of his "participants" questioned by an "interrogation artist." (There's an unbelievably "disturbing" (as has been much said about this film) image of a naked interrogativatee squirming on the ground.) No privacy aloud, whatsoever. The people seem to be so happy about this at first. They can shoot guns on camera, eat on camera, do crazy stuff on camera, even as many have said "have sex on camera." They claim it's "freeing." But, as they realize (and I think people such as Ebert have pointed out), it's most definitely not.

For Harris, this seems fun, as he's called "Oz," and indeed he gets to have godly powers over everyone. (No one knows who he is.) Yes, until he does the same thing to himself and realizes how bad it can be. He has a girlfriend who apparently willingly goes along with it, at least for the beginning. Then, it becomes somewhat like "The Allen and Craig Show," and both tire of it quickly. Their fights are documented on video. There is also the problem of having no relaxation whatsoever, but there we go. As my friend said, "Didn't he submit to this himself?"

This is a subject that only a member of Quiet would be able to direct, and thus Ondi Timoner fits the bill. That's probably the way she gets all of the footage that she does from the security cameras. She also gets in depth access to Harris, who, as Ebert remarked, surprised, "goes on to work on an apple farm," and thus to Ethiopia. But she's impersonal, as the film is. But as I said, the style I doubt, but the subject matter I don't. B

I have always loved "The Truman Show." But there's new perspective if Andrew Niccol (the screenwriter) derived the idea from Quiet. That movie is definitely very sanitized if that's the case. Thinking back, is "The Truman Show" better? Maybe. I dunno now. My thoughts are messy.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Amazing, especially the part. Very current and relevant.