Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

March 25, 2010

A guest post from Prairie Miller, my favorite critic

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 7:49 pm

Generation Zero Movie Review: Tea Party Cinema A Weak Brew

By Prairie Miller

Dredging up tired old myths about America while concocting misleading new ones, the documentary Generation Zero assembles a host of valid gripes currently troubling the nation, but is more than careful to detour around any proposed remedies anchored in reality. In other words, all dressed up in undercover Republican in rebel’s clothing, and with basically nowhere new to go.

Written and directed by Reagan partisan Stephen K. Bannon (In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed, and Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration) Generation Zero boasts an exceedingly odd couple combo of assorted right wing egghead think tank rhetoric talking heads and angry white middle class rants. And all wrapped up in highly sophisticated production values fueling alarmist high speed imagery, and topped off with a musical score seemingly gleaned from really scary slasher movies.

Invoking intimidating biblical scriptures that are fused visually with looming tornadoes, rotting fruit, paper money on fire, and a man versus lion beatdown, Generation Zero gets down to business on fast forward by blaming the current economic crisis retroactively on Lucifer, Woodstock, Dems, post-hippie yuppies lighting up cigars with burning Ben Franklins, Hollywood, Black Panthers, anti-war protesters and disrespectful post-WWII youth. Which might leave the woefully marginalized left in this country scratching their heads while caught between pondering these neo-McCarthyite accusations, and shock that they seem to wield such enormous power over the course of history.

At the same time, the right wing populist thrust of this documentary mourns the economic tragedy of the Great Depression, while reticently longing for the good old days of capitalism unregulated by the government. History alert, that’s exactly what led to the Great Depression. And in glaring contradiction, the current ‘incestuous’ relationship between government and big business is condemned as contributing to the economic woes facing us today. But if in reality those two entities have merged into one and the same with politicians the actual under the radar conflict-of-interest corporate partners, isn’t that unregulated capitalism after all?

In a case of repeatedly not saying what you mean moviemaking in the extreme, Generation Zero is ironically advocating in its own way, a utopian nation grounded in a prevailing small business society that no longer exists, and is in effect hardly different from the hippie fantasy back to nature version of the world. And in this small business interests butting of heads with big capitalism that is the core grievance of this film, where exactly do the American masses you’re inflaming – with no businesses of their own, let alone even a job or home in many cases – fit in?

Now while there’s nothing wrong with spouting your opinions loudly in a movie, at the same time it’s respectful of your audience to come out of your political closet and say so. Instead of manipulatively shouting at viewers about everything that’s ailing America and rightly so, while quietly tiptoeing around your own hidden agenda solutions that’s really a same politics, different day, voting booth Republican pep rally.

Generation Zero: A Tea Party animal all steamed up, but whose tempest in a teapot is basically empty.

Citizens United Productions
‘Zero’ Stars


  1. This reminds me of the “Fahrenheit 9/11” rebuttal movie the late Ron Silver made years ago; it was pretty much “Mike Moore is a fat liar, worship Bush II!” This sounds more like a Glenn Beck rant with talking heads and fast editing. I would rent it when it hits DVD if only to riff on it “Mystery Science” style.

    Comment by mr. mike — March 26, 2010 @ 4:21 am

  2. The movie seems to me to be incoherent. What’s it about?

    Comment by Renegade Eye — March 26, 2010 @ 5:20 am

  3. The more capitalism breaks down the greater the loony right get hysterical and start looking to outside elements to explain the breakdown. It is the only road they can take, being anti academic. I find it somewhat amusing.

    Comment by Steve — March 26, 2010 @ 5:08 pm

  4. Haven’t seen it but heard the filmmaker interviewed on my local right-wing radio outlet (KSFO-San Francisco). I gathered that the film’s premise is that good ol’ fashioned capitalism was corrupted by the venal, licentious, egomaniacal woodstock generation. That’s an interesting wrinkle.

    Others have suggested (Doug Henwood’s one) that laissez-faire brutality appealed to christian conservatives because it enforced their puritanism. IOW, capitalism will flatten everyone not chaste, sober and conformist.

    Now that’s it become clear that capitalism will flatten everyone, a new theory must be propounded, a theory that flips it around. Capitalism fought the counter-culture and the counter-culture won.

    Even simpler: capitalism didn’t fail us, we failed capitalism.

    Comment by Rojo — March 29, 2010 @ 9:25 pm

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