(2006) dir. Alexandra Lipsitz
Documentaries are interesting things. I’ve been really getting into documentaries lately. They’ve been on the rise for the past several years, more and more are getting produced. So much so, that they’ve begun to develop subgenres and style types that can be filtered down on. And Air Guitar Nation, a totally hilarious film, fits into this genre that I’ve noted since the production of Spellbound (2002). There are many other films like this, Wordplay (2006) and The King of Kong (2007), which I have been wanting to see. This genre is about people who obsessively compete in a bizarre and obscure cultural niche, a world that the average person has not accessed before and where the world of these weird cultural segments and their inherent fanaticism leads to a competition for glory.
Air Guitar Nation rocks. The star by far is David S. Jung (C-Diddy when onstage), who is absolutely hilarious when in his persona. The film follows him and fellow New Yorker, Dan Crane (Bjorn Turoque) in competitions from New York, Los Angeles, and to Oulo, the Finnish capitol of Air Guitar. This film is pure cult fun. So many quotable lines, such a manic fusion of competitiveness and comedy, with a deep heart of seriousness.
The film follows the lives and dreams of both C-Diddy and Bjorn Turoque, their families, their aspirations. It also delves into the absolute hilarity of the depth of the European spirituality that is seen in the act of Air Guitar performance, called by one, “the last true art form”. The film shows how the people ride the line between self-conscious parody and outright devotion and belief in the act. An outsider, like myself, can only laugh. Respectfully, of course.
The other main thing that this made me think of is the other comedic genre of “mockumentary”, perfected early on in This is Spinal Tap (1984) and carried on with the very funny Waiting for Guffman (1996) and then on rapid descent with the tepid Best in Show (2000) and A Mighty Wind (2003). While all of these are Christopher Guest films mostly, the genre has been picked up by others. They parody the exact genre of which Air Guitar Nation fits in, specific niche subcultures and their aspirations and obsessions.
My point here would simply be that a film like Air Guitar Nation is not only the real deal, but is inherently funnier because it is reality itself. The parody and craziness are not projections of actors and writers, but the actual real world of unusual personal obsessions with artifacts of great obscurity on the world stage. The film is not necessarily transcendent, though it does make an effort toward political criticism and the dream of world peace. It’s best heart is in its actual people, their lives, their dreams, their performances.
You’ve got to see C-Diddy. He is awesome.