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Peep TV: Filmmaker gets all JGB on Japan's ass

Author: • Feb 8th, 2006 •

Category: Ballardosphere, consumerism, media landscape, terrorism

Now screening in Seattle. Sounds tedious. But what do critics know?

“Peep “TV” Show
PRO: Watching Yutaka Tsuchiya’s Peep “TV” Show is a lot like reading J.G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition—both are not easy to get through but are vital works of art. Peep “TV” Show is about a society (contemporary Tokyo) that is mediated to the last degree. Public, private, and commercial spaces are crammed with cameras that look into them, and (TV, video, computer) screens that look out at other public, private, and commercial spaces. Every level of life is a spectacle that aspires to become the total spectacle of the new century-9/11. The main characters in Peep “TV” Show are morbidly, erotically obsessed with the destruction of the Twin Towers, one even admitting that he wished it had happened to Tokyo. 9/11 is to Peep “TV” Show what the assassination of JFK was to Crash (1973), another J.G. Ballard novel. Crash, however, is a work of science fiction, whereas Peep “TV” Show is about the present and the real proliferation of electronic consumer products, specifically the digital and micro-cameras with which the entire movie is shot. Peep “TV” Show is relentlessly repetitive, but it does have several unexpected moments that break the surface of the vicious pattern and peer into the dizzying depths of what all underdeveloped economies are striving to become: overdeveloped, paperless, capitalist societies. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

CON: Peep “TV” Show is a deliberately abrasive DV feature whose main appeal, if it can be said to possess any, is the opportunity to gawk at Japanese youth subcultures. Want to see a young woman dress up as a “Gothic Lolita,” a sort of cross between Little Bo Peep and a riot grrrl (as featured in the Phaidon book Fresh Fruits)? Want to get a gander at the hikkikomori, the “socially withdrawn” men in their late teens and twenties who venture out of their rooms only to buy food in the middle of the night (as featured in the New York Times)? Want to see a live cat being placed inside a plastic bag and… never mind. If the movie were smart, it would indict you for the voyeurism of the main character, Hasegawa, who likes to tote around a tiny camera and film from the ground up on busy Tokyo streets. Instead, the characters offer the tepid excuse, “It’s not us, it’s reality that’s messed up,” and the movie gets lost in junk analysis of the appeal of 9/11 footage.
(ANNIE WAGNER)

Grand Illusion, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm, Mon-Thurs
7, 9 pm.”

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