I think we can all agree that 2020 was indeed a yearlong dumpster fire. A pandemic, a failed white supremacist coup, economic uncertainty – 2020 was truly the kind of year that made you want to curl up in a ball and sound the wake-up call for ‘whenever the world pulls himself together â.
But for a performance artist, activist, and filmmaker / provocateur, a lot of chaos is a call to action. Weird, strong, aggressive button push action. “2020: The Dumpster Fire” is Boston-based filmmaker Rod Webber’s documentary about this not good, very bad year and, more specifically, the role of an activist who both witnessed an entire year of often dangerous unrest and creating a little creative fuss of its own.
Produced by South Portland’s Nathan Oliver via his film production company NO Productions, â2020: The Dumpster Fireâ follows Webber as he fits into everything from presidential campaign rallies (for Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard and others) at Black Lives Matter marches through the streets of Boston, where Webber and several accomplices staged a bloody (fake) ritual in which Webber ripped out and ate Trump’s heart.
Webber is often arrested, which Mainer Oliver says he can appreciate, given the message Webber is trying to get across.
âRod was raided by the FBI which was hilarious,â Oliver said, noting that Webber’s film shows the moment Webber, with the camera still on, asks officers if he can put on his pants. Citing Webber’s $ 20,000 victory in a campaign lawsuit against Trump for abusing Webber at a Trump rally in 2016, Oliver says Webber’s strategy now is to tell would-be apprehenders, “Trump paid me. $ 20,000 – do you have $ 20,000 to spare?
For Oliver, who describes himself as “very halfway there, politically,” the stunts that catch Webber’s attention are appealing because, “Rod is one of those people you don’t meet a lot, someone which is, in a participatory way, in the right place at the right time. Of course, when you carry your camera into the heart of what Oliver rightly calls “one of the most chaotic years in American history,” the right place and the right time often means you are exposing yourself to the outdoors. being hurt by very angry people. .
In “2020: The Dumpster Fire” (the first 10 minutes of which are available for free online), we see Webber and his team being attacked (verbally) by notorious conservative kook Alex Jones and (physically) by the white supremacist himself. saying “Proud Boys” on the streets of Providence, Rhode Island. All in the service, according to producer Oliver, to speak the truth to power, no matter who wields it. “For Rod, anyone looking for a position of power,” he said, “I’m part of that package too, and no one is above it.”
For Oliver, whose directorial feature film, cult horror film “Lady Psycho Killer” previously featured in this column, finding such a timely and provocative film for NO Productions (alongside California studio Buffalo 8) was a steal. and good fun. âRod has that very sardonic Gen-X-type humor, and it’s a breath of fresh air. What’s really fun is going through Google’s archives and looking up Rod’s name. Leaving politics aside for a moment, it’s just ridiculously entertaining. That’s his goal – he’s a town crier, and it’s off-putting to some people. “
Whether it’s symbolically gutting a sitting president, scribbling satirical messages about high profile public targets, or bringing in unsuspecting figures (like former right-wing Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio in disgrace) unwittingly playing in his satirical plays, Rod Webber is part of the long history of American Confrontational Comedy. As Webber himself recounts in â2020: The Dumpster Fire,â âIf you don’t have heaps of cash you have to use the spectacle, humor, and trolling to scream (expletive). ” (Oliver points to the Borat-style sequence where Webber, featuring a crowd of undercover MAGA, ultimately gets a lot of people to sing something extremely questionable about their chosen leader.)
According to Webber, “2020: The Dumpster Fire” is a testament to his willingness to hold accountable those people – whether politicians on either side, media figures or dangerously violent white supremacists – who would rather not be known. than by themselves, carefully crafted terms. Speaking about Webber’s presence at Black Lives Matter or Occupy Wall Street and Standing Rock protests, Oliver notes, “He’s in a weird place where he has no context and isn’t trying.” to provide it either. He says “This is what happened here” and shows things that the media narrative leaves out. “
As for the busy Oliver, for the foreseeable future his NO Productions will be planning everything from working with Maine filmmaker Josiah Pitchforth to a deeply personal project about his mother’s time as an Air Force Major and Nurse, to a self-funded horror anthology. Meanwhile, her âLady Psycho Killerâ (featuring movie legend Malcolm McDowell, among others) can air on Tubi, and Oliver’s â2020: The Dumpster Fireâ will be released globally in December. âNot bad for a little guy from Maine,â Oliver said proudly, and I agree.
Watch the first 10 minutes of â2020: The Dumpster Fireâ on YouTube and keep an eye on the NO Productions website, noprogear.com, for full release details. You can read more about Rod Webber’s work at rodwebber.com.
Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.
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