Fantasia 2021 with "You Can't Kill Meme"

Fake? Doesn't matter. It's all true now.

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Dear Moviegoers,

I’ll likely never watch Inception without thinking about You Can’t Kill Meme, from now on.

Hayley Garrigus’ film is described as an “anti-documentary,” which I can both see and not see. On one hand, You Can’t Kill Meme is fiercely an essay, clear cut from thesis to finale, and in superb fashion. It blends kind and empathetic interviews with desktop and screen-life-style filmmaking, crafting from a pile of media a sculpted and remixed vision that runs the collective world through a piercing perspective. On the other hand, can’t a documentary be like an essay? Theo Anthony does it. Michael Moore made a career from it (if by way of confrontation). And of course, F for Fake exists atop them all. You Can’t Kill Meme gets awfully close to being an achievement in the Wellessian mold, but is still an achievement by itself.

The film makes real the texture and contours of internet memes, specifically in the power of user communities to rally together creative symbols and signs, and make of them a new iconography from which influence can occur IRL. “Memetic magic.” Or is it “magick?” Can a simple graphic riff on The Simpson’s change a voter’s mind? Yes, but just explaining that isn’t simply what director Hayley Garrigus is after.

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You Can’t Kill Meme is cinematic alchemy. The movie takes what sounds like very abstract concepts and movements that involve thoughts and ideas and behavior, and makes them feel totally tangible. One could almost reach out into the ether and give Pepe the Frog a hug (not that you’d want to). It moves from digital and virtual spaces and forums, and into the “real” world not so smoothly, but in a way to almost mimic being unplugged from an Avatar. Rude awakenings, really.

Well, not too rude.

The presentation goes out of its way to make its private subjects feel at ease and at home, not just as an interview tactic, but out of genuine care. These aren’t unstable people, no matter how out of bounds or interdimensional their thinking might appear to be. In fact, each individual that’s given time to talk is incredibly articulate and intelligent. They are the magicians and the lightworkers of this and other worlds, creating reality and truth from and of various forms.

Memes, as shown here, feel like a sorcerer’s version of exposure therapy, something of which I went through as a child. You think something long and hard enough, even practice it, and the scenario appears to become real when facing it. It’s similar to this, but not exact, as there’s a voodoo nature to “willing” Hillary Clinton to get sick on the campaign trail, among many other spells.

You Can’t Kill Meme is both for the newbs and the admins (am I getting that right?), being easy to digest from the opening to challenging and confounding at the closing. We’re all susceptible to manipulation and propaganda - it just so happens that nowadays, it can happen on a mass scale in a matter of minutes by a Discord server of goofballs. Never discount or underestimate anyone, especially those you look down on or disagree with. Just because you’re not alt-right, doesn’t mean you’re alright.

The Matrix is real, and it’s been Incepted into existence. May Kek have mercy. 5/5

Sincerely Yours in Moviegoing,

:)


(Note: Moviegoing, whether it be at the theater or at home, brings about some expenses. If you enjoy this blog/newsletter and are so inclined to support it, please do follow along, subscribe, leave comments, and share it around. Many thanks!)