Rip In Pieces America

Dominic Gaguou

Canada/USA 2009, 62 minutes.

Viewers who like to see American culture, society or politics as the epitome of Western folly, might be delighted to know that they have their peers posted in front of their web-cams in basement after basement over there.

There aren’t too many reasons to be cheerful, according to these short proclamations, directed at who knows out there. Here are a few excerpts: “You don’t get what’s going on, do you?” one of them scolds us: “You’re too wrapped up in your soap operas, and…” Disgruntled citizens having a go at mainstream entertainment are always welcome. And? There’s not too much analysis to follow alas, but a hint of looming disaster: “You have no idea of what’s coming.” Another man in despair: “Why is it that everybody’s so fucking ignorant? Looking at everybody else’s faults, as if they’re perfect, when they’re not?”

There’s a lesson here we could all take to heart. Plain and simple: this fellow spent a few minutes of his life posing the questions in his heart of hearts – to Web-world. Why, indeed? Another one: “I’m just saying it’s going to get very ugly very soon.” And another one: “the Illuminati runs the whole gang system in America.” And then the Disco King. This is getting interesting. This compilation may still turn out to be an illustration of the web’s potential as a forum for the much bemoaned voices that seldom gain admittance to the public domain.

The public public domain, that is, where the big boys of spin, analysis and comment play, and the talkshow hosts and editors reign. The unbridled exclamations of RIP in Pieces would be as welcome in the executive-conventionality of primetime television as a boatload of antibiotics on Germ Island, and that quality alone is rather endearing.

There’s an antidote theme trying to surface here, although one probably shouldn’t make too much out of it. After all, the web has had roughly a couple of decades to realize its potential as the channel for radical, subversive thinking or action, and it hasn’t quite materialized as such just yet, a few blogs and Indymedia notwithstanding.

Confession: this film coincided with the lamenting of Web 2.0 culture by one of the pioneers of Virtual Reality, Jaron Lanier: “This widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned personal interaction.” What passes for creativity today is really just endlessly rehashed content, he says in an Economist interview, and as for Virtual Reality: “These days, it means just about anything”. Nevertheless, RIP in Pieces’ immediate appeal is in its depiction of the, well, real realities out there, and their inhabitants’ righteous claims for attention, no matter how whimsical or unelaborated. For good or bad, one might add. Enter a concerned looking guy in dark shirt, cap and a mustache: “I’m gonna tell you a little bit about what’s really going on.” Promises, promises…

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