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« The Ophir Nominations. Which film will be Israel's Oscar Submission? | Main | The New Classics: Master and Commander »
Tuesday
Jul302019

"Kathy Griffin: One Hell of a Story" and "The Great Hack"

by Eurocheese

Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story’s one night only theatrical event (Wednesday, July 31st) and Netflix’s disturbing expose on digital exploitation The Great Hack couldn’t be more different in tone, but they would make an interesting double feature. I couldn’t have imagined either film would exist just a few years ago. In a decade, I wonder what we’ll be saying about both of them...

Kathy proved her eternal D list status when the president personally came after her, as he has with a number of female or minority celebrities over the last few years. She was the first, though, to be treated by the government as if she was actually attempting to take terrorist action against him. I personally have always found Kathy’s smack-talking, wink to the camera style of comedy hilarious, especially when she has always praised celebrities who allow themselves to be in on the joke. She always went after the egomaniacs, so she didn’t think for a minute that one was about to stretch her almost to the breaking point.

The combination of her current show – once again full of laughs, but cutting deeper in moments when you realize the gravity of her recent situation – and a documentary showcasing what this administration has done to her, feels like a perfect pairing. It’s a surprisingly joyful sit and ultimately feels like a victory for the comedienne. She's now facing the greatest challenge of her life – proving that she won’t allow herself to be victimized. She has flat out stated she didn’t like the Dixie Chicks comparison – and certainly, being detained at international airports and spending thousands to avoid criminal prosecution is disturbing – but it's easy to imagine that, much like the brilliant Shut Up & Sing did some years back, this film will serve as a time capsule reflection of who we are as a country at the moment. Even if you’re not the biggest Griffin fan, the idea that the government would come after an individual in this way is an eye-opener. Thankfully, it's made her act sharper and more relevant. If you wonder why more comedy hasn’t taken on the insanity we’ve been seeing inside this country recently, look no further than Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story.

On the flip side of the coin, if you want a gut punch of answers without any comedic filling, watch Netflix’s The Great Hack. I have an appreciation for documentarians who manage to be in the right place at the right time, and when it comes to the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, there may be no better narrator than Brittany Kaiser, who served as their previous Director of Business Development. Kaiser spends part of her time laying out the exact nature of her company’s use of personal data – which, spoiler alert, is absolutely terrifying – and then spends time rationalizing her behavior, seemingly unable to connect these actions with what she herself has done. It’s a fascinating character study, a grim depiction of our digital reality, and a seemingly impossible conspiracy theory come to life, all tied in one. I actually work in the digital world and had a number of questions answered but I guarantee none of them gave me any peace of mind. Walk into this film expecting to be infuriated. 

The construction of the film is brilliant. It plays out like a thriller, but one that we are living right now. It stresses the importance of understanding how we are being profiled. While various implications of past political efforts are important, the film is always clear that if democracy is increasingly for sale, our responsibility to fight for our voice is now more crucial than ever. This film is not a political hit job; it’s an attempt to open our eyes to what we need to consider moving forward. 

These two films are absolutely worth seeing, but must come with a warning: both will confirm that feeling in your gut that we are living in a very dangerous time. I don’t know if it’s better to face the truth with a sense of humor or a dogged determination to change it, but either way, both of these films deliver.

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Reader Comments (8)

I loved My Life on the D-List and her material from 10 years ago. She was very honest then that her life is a constant hustle for relevance and attention. The point of KG is that she would do almost anything to get a headline, an invitation to appear on TV, etc.

It's hard not to see her latest reinvention—woke political martyr—through that lens. Yes of course Trump is terrible and she took some heat she didn't deserve for that photo. But she's a hero in her own mind.

July 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterH

I don't believe for a second that anyone thought she was an actual threat, so what happened to her - and let's be honest, Trump loves to attack successful women - is genuinely upsetting. The film goes into how exactly she was threatened by the government. She has played up her D list status in the past but this ordeal was no joke.

July 31, 2019 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

"H" -- I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, as you are probably not aware of the extent of the repercussions Kathy Griffin experienced from the infamous picture from both the government and the entertainment industry.

So.no, I will not call her a hero either (who is?) However, I do consider her story a warning of both the cowardice of the entertainment industry and the vindictiveness of the Trump administration.

First they came for the...
...And twaddle to that effect.

July 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFrank McCormick

Thanks for the benefit of the doubt! You're right, I don't know the case in detail. I'll watch the doc; As I said, I have a soft spot for Kathy even though it's been 10-12 years since I closely followed her.

July 31, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterH

The Obama admin came for James Rosen and nobody gave a shit. They did all kinds of absurd things to Sheryl Atkinson also. And these were serious reporters uncovering inconvenient truths the government wanted to cover up (especially Atkinson, who broke the Fast and Furious scandal for CBS). Obama himself authorized the drone strike that killed a US citizen suspected of terrorist involvement and links to Al Qaeda. The Bush admin actually held people in Guantanamo and applied torture to get them to sing. The Clintons repeatedly sought after to destroy political opponents and were especially destructive to the women who had previously been sexually harrassed, sexually assaulted or, in the case of Juanita Broderick, actually raped by Bill Clinton. Nuts and Sluts, as the strategy was known. And this not to mention the REALLY nasty Presidents like Nixon, Harding, and both Johnsons (Lyndon and Andrew).

The only difference with Trump is the bad twitter habit. He is pettier than average and blunt like cave troll, but in essence he is only one in a long chain of abuse of power and diminishing republicanism that has accellerated post-FDR. Your last decent President was Dwight Eisenhower and, before him, either Calvin Coolidge or Abraham Lincoln.

The rest is partisan fantasy.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

And just to amend what I said before. Good on Kathy Griffin for reporting and trying to bring attention to the government abuse she suffered, but it is a shame that it will be filtered by a partisan scheme and this stupid pretense that it is a Trump thing.

Tell that to the conservative groups who were fucked over by the IRS under the Obama admin.

Your country will not restore its republicanism until people break partisan lines and start curtailing the abuses from their own sides of the aisle.

August 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

I thought "The Great Hack" deliberately avoids the history of mass manipulation to pump up the impact of its own agenda (one-sided) and fails miserably in exploring the real implications of the new technology, focusing exclusively in aiming at Russia, hence being itself another case of propaganda film rather than an informative one. Well constructed and will deceive the vast majority of its audience, of course, but can't really fool anyone formed in history and media and geostrategy that actually pays attention to what is not said.

August 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus Alonso

Jesus, your analysis completely confuses me. Russia is only brought up briefly in the documentary. The vast majority of the time is spent on the implications of our data points being for sale, and how a company was able to manipulate that to tilt elections in favor of the highest bidder worldwide. Democracy is for sale - that's the take away. Certainly it touches on political implications, but ultimately this is not a red-blue movie. This is about green (money).

August 24, 2019 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

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