Alex Cox‘s most recently completed film is I’m a Juvenile Delinquent — Jail Me!, a short (about 40 minutes) made for the BBC, on which it was shown, amazingly, as a children’s show. The DVD is available for purchase direct from Cox’s website.
I’m a Juvenile Delinquent — Jail Me! is a sardonic little parable about the rise and fall of a “reality show” in which a bunch of juveniles commit crimes (vandalism, robbery, etc) on camera. We move outward from the show itself, to the people creating the show, to “on-the-street” interviews with viewers, to the larger forces (media, police, government, etc.) that determine the show’s success and faillure. The show’s hosts/presenters/producers are a pair of obnoxious frat-boy types (or whatever the British equivalent is); they exploit the kids featured in the program, but get into trouble themselves over questions of the show’s “morality,” until they come up with the brilliant, “competitive” solution of a final episode in which four of the show’s five juvenile delinquents are sent to jail, while the fifth one gets a shot at pop stardom. And it spirals out from there, to involve the entire British pomp-and-circumstance class structure, with rapacious American corporations waiting in the wings.
What’s really brilliant about I’m a Juvenile Delinquent — Jail Me! is the way that the entire film (and not just the show-within-the-film) is shot in a trash-TV exploitative style, with lots of closeups, wobbly cameras, quick transitions, cheapo digital effects, bits from blurry surveillance footage, etc. There is no distinction between the “reality show” itself and the surrounding footage narrating its history. So we get the sense of how the entire society has become televisualized. Video is more real than anything else; it is conterminous with all of social space. And the critique of television — at one point there is even a scene of (the real) George Galloway denouncing the (fictional) reality show — is itself folded back into television. There is no moral high ground, and there is no Outside. A grim conclusion, but an all too accurate one.