by Phil Brown Posted: September 19th, 2011 at 9:39 pm
Film criticism is a tricky beast. One man’s Citizen Kane is another man’s Glen Or Glenda and it’s impossible to discredit either opinion. During TIFF my esteemed college Matt Goldberg and I disagreed pretty wildly on Bobcat Goldthwait’s vicious pop culture satire God Bless America. While I can’t pretend the film is a flawless masterpiece, I was rather fond of Goldthwait’s psychotically satirical take on the material. Perhaps it says more about my pop culture stained brain than anything else, but I do feel that Goldthwait’s message and approach are valid, if admittedly twisted and a little f-ed up. I guess I’m just fond of the twisted and the f-ed up. That’s me, what are you gonna do? In the interest of debate (and inevitably, message board bashing), I thought I’d present an alternate take on this fairly divisive movie. I’m not saying I’m necessarily right, I just want this opinion of the movie out there. Hit the jump for more and make of it what you will.
Pop culture is filled with annoyance and irritations. We can turn on the TV and lament the downfall of civilization because as bad as reality shows, shock jocks, and political pundits can be, perhaps we’re worse for giving them attention in the first place. At one point or another, some Americans have probably had a dark fantasy about taking out the trash of American culture because wouldn’t it be nice if we could get rid of all the fame-whores, mean-spirited celebrities, and the ordinary citizens who can’t get enough of the first two. It would be nice to have a release valve and writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait provides that in God Bless America. But he never probes deeper to what that fantasy says about us and instead indulges the audience by using his characters as mouthpieces and never realizing that his anti-heroes are as shallow and narcissistic as the people they’re killing.