Over at Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz has a thoughtful piece defending film and TV “hoaxes,” from the admittedly staged I’m Still Here to the obviously premeditated stunts on Jersey Shore. Although Seitz references Werner Herzog and Nanook of the North as highbrow masters of the form, we couldn’t help but recall an example that has even more relevance to today’s calculated reality-TV hijinks.
The 1967 film David Holzman’s Diary appeared, on its surface, to be a Godard-inspired record of the eponymous, young documentarian’s tortured life. Really, it was filmmaker Jim McBride’s feature-length satire of the boring, self-involved cinéma vérité style that was currently in vogue. A witty and critical record of a time, place, and milieu, it also fully embraces an essential principle of reality TV, ca. 21st century — namely, that narcissism is interesting. Best of all, you can — and should — watch the entire film at YouTube.