10 December 2001 | gein
Before Britney, there was Steve.
Privilege is one of those `lost' rarely screened masterpieces that always seem to end up on some critic's top-ten list, but you almost never know anyone who has seen the film. It is no wonder no one has seen this film it has never been available on video (except for crummy bootlegs), it's not shown on television any longer and revival theatres have long since forgotten about it. Why?
Privilege has much more pertinence now than it did back in 1967. Paul Jones (lead singer of Manfred Mann) plays Steve Shorter, a British manufactured rock-n-roll icon, who is shaped and molded into a tool used to sell every product imaginable. In one humorous moment, the British Apple Growers Association, having harvested far too many apples to be sold, hire Steve to do a commercial convincing each British person to eat six apples a day.
To the nation, Steve is a god. A symbol of everything that is pure and good. Steve can do no wrong. Unfortunately, Steve has no mind of his own and is easily led from concert-to-concert, commercial-to-commercial and meeting-to-meeting by his conniving, greedy managers. Everyone wants a piece of Steve. The mere mention of a product from Steve's lips will sway the entire nation's fashion sense if Steve wears black, the whole country wears black. His managers know this and there is no organization they will not sell him out to.
`The Church', in an act to attract more young members into its congregation, hires Steve to convince the nation's youth to become God-fearing Christians. But, this does not sit well with Steve who is becoming more cognizant of his surroundings through the help of a young artist played by sixties supermodel, Jean Shrimpton.
Privilege, even though rarely shown, is a surreal motion picture every film fanatic and music historian should seek out. With teeny-bop stars like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson and NSYNC sprouting up like so many invasive weeds, Privilege is very worthy of a second look. Hurry, please, before it is too late.