Watched: March 18 2021
Director: Peter Watkins
Starring: Paul Jones, Jean Shrimpton, Mark London, William Job, Max Bacon, Jeremy Child, James Cossins
Runtime: 1h 43min
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
What we learned: Do not worship celebrities… Or probably anything, really.
Next time: Quatermass and the Pit (1967)