Take a Drink: for each media circus
Take a Drink: for straight up racism
Take a Drink: for celebrity endorsements
Take a Drink: for elections
Take a Drink: for split screen
Take a Drink: for abuses of power
Do a Shot: Fuck off, Steven Seagal… and Ted Nugent
Do a Shot: “I’m not a racist, I’m an animal rights activist…”
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
You’ve probably heard of Joe Arpaio. The self-styled “America’s Toughest Sheriff” has been a media darling for over 20 years for stunts like parading his county’s prisoners in pink boxers during a “jail transfer”. Or you might remember him as that Arizona cop who declared Obama’s birth certificate to be a fake on live TV.
Birthers: the Cadillac of idiot conspiracy theories
The Joe Show is a documentary that examines this fascinating and controversial public figure and his long relationship with the media, which has made him one of the most financially supported politicians in the country.
This documentary has ridiculous access- they even get him to sing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” bookending the film. However, it’s far from a fluff piece. Director Randy Murray addressed how Arpaio connected to so many people and became so popular with strategies like volunteer “posses” whose simple cruising around in police cars discourages crime even though they have zero legal ability to do anything about it. However, The Joe Show doesn’t shy from the negatives of Arpaio’s tenure, either, and they are legion, from fiscal mishandling to racist anti-immigrant policies, to the “culture of cruelty” in his jails that has contributed to 150 inmate deaths in his tenure. Remember, these are jails, not prisons, where you end up after getting caught pulling an Old School, or just awaiting trial for a crime you potentially didn’t even commit. Zero is the only acceptable number for that.
If this was Arizona, Ferrell will be asphyxiating in a restraint chair within the hour.
The other thing The Joe Show does well is examine through Arpaio the junction between politics, entertainment, and the media. Very few have taken advantage of the unique conditions America’s image-crazy, rhetoric-driven environment fosters quite as well as Arpaio. He’s next to a household name even though he holds a position that isn’t even electable in most countries, regularly draws millions of dollars in campaign contributions even when his competitors are playing with a pool in the tens of thousands, and seems to have singlehandedly sustained the deluge of cheap “law-enforcement” reality show bullshit on your TV.
I know, let’s take a delusional movie star and let him cause real damage.
A last toast to Lisa Allen, a former small-town TV reporter turned Arpaio’s smooth-talking, relentlessly news-spinning personal PR machine who gets plenty of face time in the film. She’s perhaps even more interesting than Joe himself.
Murray could have turned down the the style a bit, as it often verges on distraction. The split screen well is gone to a bit too often, and the flashy edits sometimes look more like bad TV than good film. The soundtrack is also a bit “zany” for my tastes. I understand the idea behind the media circus/circus music parallel, but that doesn’t make it a good one.
The Joe Show is a compelling look at a deservedly controversial media Golem like only America can make. It may not be too Joe-friendly in the end, with a particular flair for letting people hang themselves with their own words, but as Joe himself says, any publicity is good publicity.