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Alex's War is a painfully boring love letter to a man who is anything but boring

Failed State Update for July 31, 2022

They always get me.

The lamestream media starts freaking out over toxic filmmaking, whether it’s 2016’s Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, or this year’s sub-sub-Daily Show assault on trans issues, What Is Woman? (Not to be confused with Timothy Leary’s 1976 book What Does WoMan Want?) My curiosity, piqued by reviews and negative press written by people who are often proud to admit that they’ve never even seen the movie they’re decrying, leads me to track it down to see it for myself. I expect to be shocked. I expect to be disgusted. I expect to be amused by the idiocy on display, or even to learn a thing or two. Instead, I find myself hating the director for making such a long film.

(*During the RNC in 2012, my colleague Matt Stroud and I ducked into an empty theater to watch Dinesh D’Souza’s then-current agitprop, 2016: Obama’s America, which I fell asleep about 10 minutes into. It was the best sleep I had all week.)

Before I tell you what the new documentary Alex’s War is, I’ll tell you what it is not. It doesn’t offer serious Alex Jones watchers (or even casual observers) any new insight into the man. Instead, it offers a cherry-picked version of A.J.’s history, a cinematic whitewash that culminates in a retelling of January 6 to make it look like Alex is this victim. Things just got away from him, we’re lead to believe. The last thing in the world he wanted was for the people he’d been marching around D.C. with for months to storm the capital. Which, even if this was the truth, wouldn’t absolve him of the last 20+ years of propagandizing for the fascist right that helped lead the country here in the first place.

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The film’s director, Alex Lee Moyer, likens her filmmaking style to cinéma vérité, except that none of the greats — Leacock, Pennebaker, the Maysles Brothers — would have ever let their subject lie to the camera for so long without any indication that they were, and are, full of shit. This is unalloyed propaganda.

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I actually liked Moyer’s other doc, TFW No GF, although it also seems to suffer from an apparent love affair with its subjects — in this case, incels, members of an internet subculture that thrives on hate speech that sometimes (too often) spills over into very real violence.

Truth be told, I can relate to the alienation of incels. I do think that this shitty capitalist system of ours does breed alienation, it does push people to dark places. I can even relate to Alex Jones in many ways — we’re about the same age, both prolific readers since childhood, self-taught with a lot of the same interests, no real education to speak of. I wasn’t 12 years old when I read None Dare Call It Conspiracy like A.J. did, I was 16 or 17. The difference, of course, is that I’m not Alex Jones. If you can’t get through the collapse of the American Empire without turning into a Nazi (veritably, if not literally) then that’s on you, man.

On a purely filmic level, Moyer has something here. I wish whatever this “something” is would’ve made it past the editing room. Running time: 2 hours, 11 minutes

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And if you want to see some fly-on-the-wall filmmaking that actually examines some difficult people (instead of just platforming them), check out this 1988 doc on the survivalist community, Knocking on Armageddon’s Door (via Mark Pitcavage/Twitter):

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