Sunday, July 27, 2008


Privilege (New Yorker/Project X)
A year after his devastating 1966 anti-nuclear pseudo-documentary, The War Game, director Peter Watkins made another film denouncing reactionary responses to important changes taking place in England: unlike his response to nuclear war, however, in Privilege, Watkins commented on the generation gap, the ascendency of pop culture, and the continued sway of religion over politics. Quite a lot to chew on, even for so adventurous a director, and it must be admitted that Privilege–while conjuring up a plausible “future” in which pop stars are manipulated by a government using their popularity to control the masses–bites off more than it can chew. Watkins eventually fumbles what could have been an important and relevant study of the intersection of celebrity, the media, the church and the government, descending into leftist propaganda. EXTRAS: a 26-minute short from 1962, Lonely Boy–showing then-teen pop idol Paul Anka surrounded by panting teenage girls—which influenced Watkins’ depiction of the rocker-as-Messiah in Privilege.

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