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Movie satire before reality TV

Recently, there has been a spate of reality TV shows in both the US and India. These shows are seldom objective, and often play for shock value.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2009 22:56 IST

Why watch it now


Recently, there has been a spate of reality TV shows in both the US and India. These shows are seldom objective, and often play for shock value. Much like Oliver Stone’s 1994 satire, Natural Born Killers, is about a husband and wife couple who go on a killing spree. Their escape from prison in the end is aired nationwide on TV. This was reality TV before producers caught on to the concept.

Plot synopsis
Mickey and Mallory are married and travelling across America in their trailer truck. They kill people in diners for fun. They allow one survivor from every bloodbath to tell the world it was their doing. The media loves it and makes them celebrities. Oliver Stone’s 1994 Natural Born Killers is the director’s most baroque effort; it is hard to believe he made Platoon first and went on to make Nixon, both classical style movies
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Checkered Reality
When Mickey and Mallory finally land up in jail, Wayne Gale, whose TV show profiles mass murderers, rushes to interview them right there. Mickey’s views, aired nationwide, are so virulent, it precipitates a prison riot. Gale, hysterical with delight, shoots the whole carnage on camera; his show is making history now. He escapes along with Mickey and Mallory. They inform him politely that they will shoot him now. But he is the last one! Nope, the camera is. And thus reality TV was born, even before we called it so. The movie’s blood and gore, cartoon interludes, violent colours, subliminal flashes of wolves and snakes, and hysterical camera angles threaten to burst out like worms out of a can, but Stone’s tripartite screenplay somehow manages to keep it all together.

This is not tragedy; it is satire. Mickey and Mallory are not sympathetic villains and the movie ends with them back on their trailer truck, now with kids. Stone is too busy laughing at the media and at a society that admires mass murderers. While we shiver.