The F Word

The F Word

The F Word is not a “mockumentary” per se, because that’s a work of comedy fiction that’s spoofing the documentary format, but it is a faux documentary of sorts.

This is the story of a tiny New York radio station, being driven off the air due to its inability to pay draconian FCC fines for obscenity, whose apparently only on-air personality decides to spend their last broadcasting day wandering the streets, interviewing people. It is one of the days of the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, and most of the interviews are of protesters.

Here’s the gimmick: The radio station and all that is fictional; the supposed radio host is an actor. But the shots of the activities on the streets related to the convention are real, and the people you see him interacting with and interviewing include both real people who happened to be present that day when they were filming, and actors.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t get the point. The gimmick just seems dumb to me. It encourages one to play the game of trying to figure out who’s real and who’s not (some seem pretty obvious, some not so much), but why?

But then even to the extent that I was able to ignore the “is he real or is he an actor?” game, and to just respond to the substance of what people are saying, this movie still didn’t do a whole lot for me.

It’s mostly “regular folks” uttering clichés, some from the Right, and more from the Left. It’s not exactly sophisticated political analysis that even a minimally informed person could learn much from.

Not that there isn’t some value in knowing what ordinary people think, or what people motivated enough to come to a political protest think, regardless of its merits. And not that there isn’t some value in providing a little more publicity to the massive protests that took place in New York that year against the Republicans, given that protests from the Left tend to be disproportionately underreported by the mainstream media.

But the fact remains that including actors pretending to be interviewees does nothing to further those goals. And the fact remains that what the folks—real and not—in The F Word have to say is only occasionally insightful or emotionally compelling.

A silly gimmick, and a mostly boring film.

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