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Dark Planet: Visions of America

by Enda Miller
August 10, 2000 –

(Illuminati, 2005, 120 Mins, $10)

The four genres discussed in Dark Planet – straightedge, skinhead, black metal and zealot – present themselves as alternatives to the mainstream ways we envision our future. Unlike the normal Simpsons-style happy oblivion in which most consumers live, these youth culture groups believe our current path leads to ruin, and are forming breakaway societies. Luckily, the film takes a documentarian’s delicate outsider approach to outsiderness: observe, ask the logical questions, and then boogie. Here is the great strength of their approach: they are able to approach these cultures as an athropologist would, without judging or fearing for their own political futures, because they treat them all so evenhandedly. If you ask this reviewer, the zealots — separatist Christian ideologues — really run away with the show by having a clear plan unlike the other three groups. Their culture, based in distorted loud music as well as the other three, emphasizes a rising above instead of a fighting back or burning the world. Like the other groups, however, their methods do not seem particularly effective. Seeing these movements compared helps us see the point of this film: that many people agree things are going wrong, but have no idea what to do about it because the insider mainstream is never going to budge from its position of convenience-first, so people are creating alternate societies within societies. This film like all good documentaries provides a visual feast of information with an aftertaste of introspection.

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