Saturday, July 3, 2004

Ken Jacobs' Star Spangled to Death

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Star Spangled to Death (1957/59-2003, 16mm film transferred to video) is Ken Jacobs’ legendary and monumental paean to the pratfalls of patriotism and the mind-numbing consequences of conventional wisdom. Found materials as diverse as Nixon’s “Checkers” speech, a Warner Brothers short publicizing the NRA, a neo-colonialist documentary about white explorers among African “savages,” cartoons, scientific films, and many others are interspersed with clips of a young (pre-Flaming Creatures) Jack Smith and Jerry Sims making public spectacles of themselves in a variety of outrageous and devilishly-costumed performances. Shown in several versions since the late 1950s, the piece contains in its current version many new clips and is now considered by Jacobs to be “final.” SSTD is a delirious, urbane and thoroughly entertaining diatribe about America’s proud, willful and lethal rush toward cultural and political self-delusion. (Scott Stark)

NOTE: Screening of this six-and-a-half hour film will run from 2-5 pm, pause for a dinner break and continue from 6:30 until 10 pm.