01 May 2008

Honey, I Don't Believe This

#5: Hated: GG Allin & the Murder Junkies
(dir. Todd Phillips, 1994; released on DVD, 1997)

Only circumstantially aware of GG Allin and who he was, my main familiarity with his (ahem) work were the tales of theatrical and scatological stage antics and one great song by the Drive-By Truckers, "The Night GG Allin Came to Town" on the just-okay LP Pizza Deliverance.

I never meant to watch Hated, but if you're so inclined you can watch it on Pitchfork TV; it's being shown online as part of the "One Week Only" feature and will be available until Monday, May 5. Watch it here (NSFW!).

I've watched horrible things in my lifetime. I've seen most of Pink Flamingos, enjoyed Man Bites Dog, and highly recommend The Devil's Rejects as authentic campy horror. I didn't mean to watch Hated; I was just checking out Pitchfork TV and it happened to be the first thing that started playing. I can't say I'm glad I watched it, but I don't feel worse for seeing it.

My problem with Allin isn't the onstage defecation, the nudity, the indignancy toward humanity, or even the gross-out factor. Instead I take offense at the lack of a message in his body of work. The music itself is only secondary to his behavior and, in levels of fuckedupedness, drummer Dino ranks a bit higher than Allin. (Watch for him to start babbling in random words about the Lunachicks, yet in his mind he's making perfect sense.)

Instead, Hated takes on a sadly comic tone after the intial shock wears off. GG's brother Merle is as loving a brother as anyone could ask for--when asked about GG's propensity for violence towards others and his claim of committing suicide onstage Merle seems genuinely awkward and upset (even though he is sporting a Hitler-stache). Then there's the GG Allin fan Unk, who essentially boils Allin and his music down to a "hilarious" circus act, nothing more.

There are two scenes that stand out in this genuine mess of a documentary. The first I can't describe because it has to be witnessed for impact. I'll just say it involves a request that GG makes for his birthday that involves human waste and a female companion. But the second scene that captivates is the steady shot of GG playing an acoustic guitar powerfully and belting out an old-fashioned drug-murder-outlaw ballad that would stand tall on any Hank Williams or Johnny Cash album. It is here that one may come to realize that GG created the shell of a cycle that he became trapped in; perhaps his "serious" musical qualities could have been known had he not fallen into the endless pit of audience expectations and a persona he couldn't live up to, but could never live down.

Read about GG Allin's death at Wikipedia here. It's quite interesting.

Read the Drive By Truckers' lyrics to "The Night GG Allin Came to Town" here. You can listen to the song here if you have Rhapsody installed.

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