The eccentric actor and director, in London to show his films, chats about propaganda, the importance of taboo and shifting the Occupy movement into movie theatres
Last time cinematic marvel Crispin Glover performed in London, most of the unsuspecting audience were left audibly bemused, at least those who mainly knew him as George (‘you’re my density’) McFly in 'Back To The Future'. His stage show is an eccentric collage of theatrical story telling, as he awkwardly gestures to slides and narrates erratically from his books, which whose weird and wonderful subjects stray from a fictional childhood to rat catching.
He arrives in London again this week to perform both parts of his slideshow and screen the two films he has directed, 'It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine' and 'What Is It?', which he privately funded and personally distributes through these performances. A frenetic Crispin Glover chattered to Dazed Digital about propaganda, the importance of taboo and shifting the Occupy movement into movie theatres.
Dazed Digital: Is the explicit content essential to the concept of your films?
Crispin Glover: Oh yeah. Both films, 'What Is It?' and 'Everything Is Fine', have graphic sexuality in them. 'What Is It?' started out as a short film. Part way through I realised that I had crossed into taboo film subject matter, which is not what I was originally intending.
The reason for making 'What Is It?' was to promote the idea that having a majority of the characters played by actors with down syndrome, wherein those characters did not necessarily have down syndrome, was a viable idea. The corporation I had gone to said they were concerned about that, so my purpose of making What Is It? was just to prove that it was viable.
But I misunderstood what they were thinking about. I thought it was just about viability, but they were concerned about questionability; that people would question the concept of having a majority of characters played by actors with down syndrome wherein those characters did not necessarily have down syndrome. So I walked into what is genuinely taboo subject matter without realising it.
I think the worst part of the corporate climate at this point in time is that there’s no questioning; any film that is corporately funded and distributed will not truly ask questions. If they do, they’re the kind of questions that are virtually not real questions. There are good films every once in a while that are made though the corporate system, but for the most part if you genuinely ask a question, it will not be corporately funded or distributed.
It’s that moment where an audience sits back in their chair and looks up at the screen and thinks to themselves, ‘is this right what I’m watching? Is this wrong what I’m watching? Should I be here? Should the filmmaker have done this? What is it?’ And that’s the title of the film. What is it that’s taboo in the culture? What does it mean when the taboo has been ubiquitously exercised? It’s when these kinds of questions are being asked that there’s real education going on. When people are not asking real questions, there’s a lack of education; or the opposite of education, which is propaganda. And I do feel that that is, by far the majority, 99.9 percent of all movies that are made, particularly coming out of the United States, are propaganda.
So, the reason there’s explicit content in What Is It? is because I thought it was important, conceptually, to break into that area of taboo and specifically graphic sex with somebody who was disabled, which is something that has a taboo quality to it. Steve’s film, which is a very beautiful and an emotionally cathartic movie, really centre’s in that.
There’s a waxing and waning of control that happens in the corporate systems, and right now there’s been an increasing of control on what is allowed to be dealt with. There are political elements having to do with this. All of these protests currently going on worldwide have to do with corporate protest, they are aligned to this trend in the film industry.
People are understanding that there is a corporate clique that is controlling of people’s livelihoods, and it’s not right; it’s not a fair balance. Those same entities that are being unfair in the business world are utilising media in the same fashion, but people don’t notice it as much because it’s controlled propaganda that would cease to function if people understood that it was propaganda. I’ve worked in the film industry, so it’s exceedingly clear to me that it is propaganda and it makes me very uncomfortable. The films that people review and the actors that people love are generally smiling propagandists that are corporate cheerleaders, and it’s very well hidden.
But people don’t protest propaganda because it’s propaganda and they’re not as aware of it. Whereas banking systems and other evidences of corruption that have happened are so obvious and so readily tangible that people can go out and protest, as they should and I agree with those kind of protests.
I would like to see those protests and Occupy movements go into the movie theatres. I would love to see that, but it’s got too friendly of a face, it’s too difficult to pierce that propaganda, but to me it’s exceedingly evident. It would be interesting to see if there’s a releasing of control, I would be very happy if that happened.
Crispin Glover's 'It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.' is playing at the Phoenix Cinema, Thursday December 22, 2011. More Info HERE