Spring Broke (2016)

TV-MA   |    |  Documentary


Spring Broke (2016) Poster

The rise and fall of spring break in Daytona Beach


6/10
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10 June 2016 | lor_
What ever happened to hard-hitting documentaries (or even pseudo-documentaries)?
This fast-paced but terminally mindless film about the personalities behind manipulating college kids from the '70s onward during spring break is typical of how far filmmaking has fallen in recent years. The director Alison Ellwood, who has worked for overrated docu directors like Alex Gibney, takes an uncritical, gee whiz approach that had me hopping mad before the movie had wound its chronological course.

The problem here is simple, though I suspect the majority of gullible viewers will swallow the package and its implicit assumptions about our society whole (note that director Ellwood is an Australian, not a U.S. firster, who should have had a more objective and critical eye than is demonstrated here). Last straw was the presentation of the main protagonists - hotel owners, night club proprietors, TV execs, p.r. types and assorted hucksters, as romantic, almost heroic figures even when they were unapologetically hawking coffin nails (cigarettes) to the kids as part of their business plan.

Ellwood's breathless pacing may appeal to some college film class or likely the schmoes who stupidly give out awards to filmmakers, but it merely preys on the myth-making power of the medium. Instead of using cinema for muckraking or even noble expose purposes (see: Barbara Kopple and many other great directors from ages gone by) she lionizes these scumbags, ranging from the jerk who invented Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil (probably caused thousands of fatal cases of carcinoma over the years by baking rather than protecting us poor consumer devils), the clown who built up his Plaza Hotel in Daytona Beach on the backs of drunken, idiotic young louts down from campus for a little r&r, the MTV executives who foisted their version of music and its promotion on our culture for a few decades before the moving finger moved on to more modern media, the corrupt local creeps fighting a stupid war of Fort Lauderdale vs DB, and assorted other giddy morons proud of their little non-place in history.

After suffering through this endlessly glamorizing film, I feel like these nonentities, briefly thrust into the spotlight by AL, are on the level of Churchill, Ike, Monty, Uncle Joe and FDR in some quickie glossed-over account of World War II. Such is the power of the medium of film to magnify. To add insult to injury she brings in Pauly Shore, among the least worthy of even a footnote in the history of film and entertainment personalities, to recount his tangential rise to temporary fame during the rise of MTV.

Watching "Mad Men" on AMC we relived a bygone era and saw the manipulators of our culture, the powerful and psychologically astute ad men typified by a fictional genius named Don Draper, coming away with some insight and not just the glamor (although a mini-culture bringing back the costumes, the drinks and perhaps even the chain-smoking attended that series' meteoric success).

With "Spring Broke" we see venal personalities who helped drag down our culture to the gutter, and by inference they all get a pat on the back. The fake "objectivity" of the documentary medium, which I reject 100% - docs are just films normally without actors and nothing more - supposedly has these creeps hanging themselves with their own rope. But presented uncritically they do not - instead they emerge as enviable successes in a wonderful consumerist culture -onward and upward with MTV! I can see it all now: future generations will not be told that Jazz or the Broadway Theater are America's magnificent cultural inventions but rather it is MTV!

The only logical followup film for Alison is a documentary, in support of a future Nobel Peace Prize nomination campaign, about and on behalf of the cretin who created the "Girls Gone Wild" series of soft-core "reality" shows.

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