Monday, July 19, 2010

The Epic Beard Man Documentary

Did you see that video? The one where the bearded white guy beats up the black guy on the bus? I think the time is past for being amazed by the power of viral video. Also, the rabbit-like breeding nature of viral video is somewhat boring. Media begot media begot media I get it.

This is the documentary about the guy who punched the guy who cried for the ambalamps. Its about Thomas Alexander Bruso, also known as Tom Slick, also known as Epic Beard Man.

The documentary grabbed me right away because of the meme hype but kept me sucked in because it quickly transformed into a real story about a real person. Thomas is not the only one out there. It seems that absolute chance has gained him some internet fame but I quickly get the impression that Thomas is part of a trend and not such a wild beast as the Epic Beard Man title might suggest. He's actually quite sad.

We get the idea pretty quickly, that Thomas is playing a role. He's the epic anti-hero of the non-working class. One moment, he is setting himself as the villain, relaying to us how he went to a baseball game after consuming a smorgasbord of alcohol and narcotics. The next moment, he is a victim of police brutality. The story doesn't have to make sense because he is no longer trying to make sense of it. Every moment can be cooked down to a an iconic single-serving story. Time is fragmented. Cause and effect are not related and he's lost out there in the soup.

All of this is section 8, he tells us. He's referring to his house but also his self and his being. He is identifying with the labels society has suggested to him and he expresses contentment with it.

Racism is a recurring theme in his dialogue. I think he identifies with blacks, or his perception of what it means to be black. He expresses a solitude with the feelings of alienation and oppression. There might be some parallels in how the draft essentially abducted young boys and hauled them off across the sea to die. Unable to relay his thoughts in a way that is socially acceptable, he turns to violence.

This documentary made me rethink the archetype of the Vietnam vet. I wonder how many people like Thomas are out there and I wonder how many of them are leading equally epic lives.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Zoo, documentary about "Mr. Hands"

This is not an easy documentary to share with people. Its about a group of men who have sex with a horse. They get much unwanted attention from the law and the media when one of them is mortally injured and bleeds to death.

This is not a gross-out documentary although the subject might be difficult to stomach. This is not a tear-jerking sympathy story although the subject might be tragic. Most of all, this is not a documentary that tells you how to feel.

The story is told through the voices of the people actually involved. The filmmakers collected the most vivid and humanizing interviews with the men who call themselves 'zoo' and edited it together with the most moody cinematography of rural Washington. What is most striking about the narration is how the men talk about their intent for the animals.

Immediately, the viewer begins to wonder if the animals were at all harmed by the sexual encounters. By the intents of the men, these horses were very well taken care of. Jokes aside, these were some happy horses. Once the presence of a victim becomes less and less clear, so does the legal discussion of animal rights.

I understand that most people will not want to see this movie and would not appreciate it. The distinction between personal ethics and social morality is a mute point and they are incapable of dialogue. This group of people is not limited to vegans. I find that most people have actually made up their mind on the issue. The issues of liberty are lost on them. They have decided that the animals are in danger and no amount of contrary evidence is going to sway them. The men are in-condonable.

I found this movie because I am a fan of Stranger writer Charles Mudede. He is credited as a writer on Zoo, so I rented it from Scarecrow Video. You can also rent the movie from Netflix. If none of those options appeal to you, you can watch the entire film on YouTube:

There is something very American about these sorts of discussion. They seem to resonate with our value for the pursuit of happiness. Also, they bring to mind the cultural attitude that, although I find your behavior abominable, I defend your right to do it. Your sins are irreproachable.