|The Wayward Word Well
Forced Labor Bop
I remember the first time I watched Blue Velvet. I was shocked. Then one day I watched Pink Flamingoes. Again I was left reeling. The previous works share few commonalities in them or style, but there are two striking similarities: both have colors in the title and both have the aim of launching an all-out assault on the viewers' sensibilities.
While searching the Shibuya-kei genre of music on Youtube I saw a trailer listed for an episodic work called B-17. One of the tags mentioned Shibuya-kei so I checked it out. I didn't know what was going on but I found a work that was as twisted and dark as the perverse security state it parodies. It was not a work of art. Not a fine film. It was an alarm clock time bomb.
Sarah Weis and Arturo Cubacub created B-17. Major Orwellian overtones and black comedy in the vein of Brautigan and Vonnegut combine with disturbing scenes of the life of a girl who wakes up to find herself trapped and under constant surveillance in a dungeon/pleasure den where she is forced into slavery and must service Dick Cheney upon command.
Cheney's part is played by a mannequin with an unnerving, distorted
voice and red light-up eyes. This is just one unsettling feature of B-17. The film's dysphoric mood is enhanced by the low-fi, "superindie" production and the nerve-wrenching moog and theremin film score, written and performed by the creative duo of Arturo and Sarah. The film is both funny and frightening. It conceptualizes the madness of post-9/11 America. It envisions a world where no one is safe from our protectors who already have the right to surveillance, phone taps and other civil rights breaches.
The entire film is available on Youtube.com and can be found at
www.youtube.com/bseventeen. Check out the trailers and start at episode one if you want it to make any sense. Don't miss chapters like "The brand of the free," or "I heart the war on terrorism." I contacted the creators and gave them my impression. I said they made John Waters and David Lynch look like Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell. Arturo jokingly replied that their aim was to "make Walt Disney and Norman Rockwell look like Joseph Thorak and Leni Riefenstahl." Copies of the DVD are for sale at http://b-seventeen.com.