25 July 2004 | johnnycourageous
Entertainment or exploitation?
Freakstars 3000 is an apparent social satire that attempts to take off various reality TV programs, most notably the Idol series, and TV in general. It is difficult to determine whether the director intended to make a "mockumentary" of the series, or just some peculiar semi-documentary style comedy. Whatever the motive or intent, the humour in this film seemed to sit very uncomfortably with a number of the people in the audience I saw it with.
Our protagonist gains access to a German institution, consisting of a number of mentally and physically handicapped individuals with the intention of auditioning them for a new band called the 'Freakstars'. In lots of three, each aspiring member sings an impromptu performance, often terribly, and either make it to the next round or are eliminated. Peppered throughout the film are various commercial breaks or panel type debates. One example is home shopping, where our mentally handicapped individuals try to sell us items such as toilet seats to varying degrees of humorous effect. Eventually the final band members give an absolutely appalling stage performance in front of a Berlin audience, arriving in limousines and sporting ridiculous outfits.
Depending on your sentiments, this could be seen as a very clever take-off of reality television - especially given the depths it appears to be sinking to in recent times for the sake of entertainment. The flip-side to that is the argument that these unsuspecting individuals were exploited for the purposes of humorous entertainment. Whether the mentally handicapped people were aware of the fact that they were participating in something that was never intended to be taken seriously is unclear because we are never told. We are also not aware of whether they gave informed consent to participate in a film that eventually ends up taking the p*ss out of them. Who exactly is the director sending up? Reality television? Or the unsuspecting mentally handicapped people? I guess these concerns merely mirror those that exist in the Real World of reality TV. Entertainment or exploitation? The decision is the viewers'. This mockumentary would probably sit well alongside other recent exercises in poor taste, such as the 'Bumfights' series.