#293 Privilege

Watched: March 18 2021

Director: Peter Watkins

Starring: Paul Jones, Jean Shrimpton, Mark London, William Job, Max Bacon, Jeremy Child, James Cossins

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 43min

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In the near future (counting from 1967, that is. So the distant past, we guess), Steven Shorter (Jones) is a pop sensation with a complete grip on the youth population of Britain. His stage shows are theatrical productions designed to manipulate the audience – mostly consisting of women. Thank God no one wants to take advantage of his position and influence to create a fascist regime!

“Hahaha! We wouldn’t dream of it…”

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Just kidding! That is exactly the plan, of course. You see, the youth of Britain refuse to conform and bow to traditional authorities such as the police, the government and the church. Rude! And naturally, we cannot have that. So why not take this pop star and make him the poster boy for former criminals who have seen the light and are now repenting Christians? It’s a sure fire plan to bring the youth of Britain back into the fold.

“For the stage show, we should go subtle with the symbolism, I think.” “Um… Yeah, sure. We’ll totally do that.”

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The only person on Steven’s side trying to steer him right is Vanessa (Shrimpton), an artist comissioned to paint his portrait. But how can the two of them stand up against the powerful machine of the establishment?

I know! That scourge of fascist regimes everywhere: sexual liberation!

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Well, this movie was oddly prescient… Made in 1967, but it might as well have been made today. We’ve now truly experienced how pop culture and social media fame can influence politics and how dangerous this can be.

“Take the shackles off my hands so I can…manipulate you all to blindly follow my crazy cult of complete conformity and conservative Christianity. And also dance.”

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Are Paul Jones and Jean Shrimpton amazing actors? Well, no. But their apathetic approach sort of works anyway. Privilege is a very compelling pseudo-documentary and one which is very much relevant to this day and we loved it. For an interesting (and depressing) double feature, try pairing it with Framing Britney Spears. Or the Cheeto’s political career… Whatever bites your apple.

“Biting will cost you extra…”

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What we learned: Do not worship celebrities… Or probably anything, really.

Next time: Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

#285 Dont Look Back

Watched: November 23 2020

Director: D. A. Pennebaker

Starring: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirtz, etc.

Year: 1967

Runtime: 1h 36min

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We have a confession to make. We don’t really care that much about Bob Dylan…

Sorry ’bout it, Bob

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I mean, sure, we know the hits, we know the face and we get the general gist of his appeal, but he was never really our cup of tea. Or coffee for that matter. Still, we thought, we’ll give this a go. Perhaps it will be our come-to-Jesus-moment?

Real question: would Jesus amass the same following if he played the harmonica..?

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For those not in the know, Dont Look Back is a documentary covering one of Dylan’s UK tours. It’s an interesting look into the folk music scene in the ’60s, the “proper” establishment versus the young, rebellious musicians, fame versus artistry, and it’s probably a perfect film for Bob Dylan fans to enjoy together, preferably with a couple of beers and loads of cigarettes.

Why yes, Bob, that would be the ideal place to host such a gathering.

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Esthetically, it’s very pleasing as well. The black and white photography is beautiful, the start is very cool, the music is of course excellent, and the style works very well with the contents. Also, the negotiation scene is surprisingly intriguing, and overall we enjoyed it.

What’s that Bob? What are you trying to say? Did Timmy fall in the pig pen?

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However, Dylan himself comes across as an arrogant, argumentative prick. Which isn’t really the best way to win us over as fans, reported genius aside. In fact, we found him quite annoying… Which probably wasn’t the intention, but that was the unfortunate result, and we tend not to like artists who are argumentative bastards, no matter their cultural importance.

Perhaps it is, Bob. Perhaps it is. But is it ours or yours..?

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In conclusion: esthetically, filmatically, culturally and historically, this movie is definitely worth watching and you get a fantastic sense of the 1960s. Personally, it’s hard to like Bob Dylan in this – sure he’s cute and charming, but he’s also fucking annoying and arrogant. Then again, he was 23 years old and everybody worshipped him, so can you really hold it against him..?

You know, you’re right. You should dig yourself. Way too many people are too hard on themselves. All we’re saying is that there’s nothing wrong with being nice to other people even if you think you’re better than them.

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What we learned: We’re the wrong audience for this movie.

Next time: In Cold Blood (1967)