Monday, May 18, 2009

Trufer Doc: New World Order

Don’t be these guys. Even if you believe the Bilderberg Group is secretly plotting to take over the world, just chill out and take your meds. Otherwise you might wind up in a documentary like Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer’s New World Order (trailer here), which opens theatrically in New York this Friday.

NWO represents a weird confluence of political extremes, encompassing Democracy Now viewers and Ron Paul voters, who insist those airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers had nothing to do with the World Trade Center’s destruction. They also live in fear of the Bilderberg Group, a publicity-shy annual conference of world economic and political leaders, who evidently are bent on ushering in the ominous “New World Order.” The resistance’s leading spokesperson and DVD mail-order salesman is Alex Jones, a radio personality based in Texas.

Neel and Meyers follow the documentary strategy Barbet Schroeder employed with Idi Amin and attorney-for-terror Jacques Vergès, letting their subjects damn themselves with their own words, but the results in New World Order are decidedly mixed. Some trufers (obsessive 9-11 conspiracy theorists) do indeed say embarrassing things, like the Irish-Turkish filmmaker Timuçin Leflef, who jokes about having a chip in his head. There are also scenes of what can only be interpreted as galloping paranoia when Jones is hot on the trail of the Bilderbergers. The silver luxury car behind them is obviously a tail and the fire alarm in his hotel clearly must be an attempt to stop him from calling into a colleague’s radio show. Right?

However, Neel and Meyers never directly question the deceptive claims of Jones and company, like their dubious metallurgy debunked by Popular Mechanics. Of course, it is hard to debate these conspiracy theorists. As NWO documents, they tend to demonize their critics as either idiots or stooges of the evil overlords.

Frankly, NWO is most damning when it reveals how sad most of its subjects truly are. Seth Jackson seems to be a young man of genuine Christian charity in his Katrina relief work, but has alienated himself from mainstream society, pursuing a lonely life of trufer activism. Idaho-based survivalist Jack McLamb, a decorated veteran of the Phoenix police force, has also let his activism take its toll on his health. (To be fair though, having witnessed the Federal assault on Ruby Ridge first-hand, McLamb has a right to be paranoid.)

The scariest aspect of NWO is that its cast of characters continues to attract a following. Unfortunately, the film never explains why. It just keeps the camera rolling as they yell and scream. While at times revealing, NWO frustratingly never delves too deeply beneath the surface of trufer mania. It opens Friday (5/22) in New York at the Cinema Village, ahead of its IFC Channel premiere on May 26th.