My reaction to “God Bless America” came in three waves. 1. Wait, Bobcat Goldthwait makes films? 2. Wait, Bobcat Goldthwait makes great films? 3. Wait–Bobcat Goldthwait directed one of my favorite films of 2012?! Hot damn. “God Bless America” is one of the most vicious reflections of American pop culture I’ve ever seen. It’s a relentless, tasteless and violent look at one man’s response to the dying culture of America, and how we’ve so embraced idiocy and tailored rudeness in to a positive trait that it becomes only logical to snuff out those who impact it.
Frank is a man faced with a thankless workaday job and a distant daughter, a young girl who demands nothing but materialistic rewards for doing nothing and uses tantrums to get her way. To boot, Frank is inundated with reality shows and tabloids day in and day out as well as annoying neighbors who spend all night and day watching trash on television. When he’s told by his doctor that he has a massive brain tumor that will ensure his death in months, Frank decides to finally do something about his frustrations. Violently murdering a reality show star, Frank meets young Roxy, a psychotic teenager who insinuates herself in to Frank’s life. The two form a pact to take down everyone and everything wrong with America, and soon the blood begins to flow.
Director Goldthwait tries to influence and insult literally everyone he can come across and spends most of “God Bless America” lampooning the loudest voices in America, from the political pundit to the armchair celebrity gossipers and casts a spotlight to the dregs of society and how we’ve come so far as a society and yet prefer to devolve ourselves with nonsense and pointless dribble on television that is backtracking our mental capacity. Goldthwait explores a society that’s become mean and cold and disgusting and has rewarded those for being mean, cold, and disgusting with fame, adoration and prestige, while the more quieter individuals have to suck it up and endure the innate idolatry to troglodytic behavior that runs rampant on today’s society.
Goldthwait is never above casting the light on his own characters Frank and Roxy though, showing how they too are victims of the system, and subtly shows how they are the exact same breed of shameless drones they set out to destroy. Quite often Frank and Roxy find themselves in the same pitfalls, complaining about the sheer lack of social function thanks to cell phones, but spend their time looking for news on their phones. And Roxy decries folks who seek to be instant celebrities while spending a moment during her exploits with Frank looking for news that will sensationalize their mission to wipe society clean and get their message through. Director Goldthwait explores a world where it’s just an endless cycle of people exploiting people exploiting people, and how Frank and Roxy will soon become martyrs to be exploited by folks seeking their own agendas, never quite clear if they’ve even remotely made a ripple in a world that continues to dole out dregs of society for entertainment with an insatiable appetite for sleaze and violence.
Director Goldthwait spares no one in his tirade against what’s so wrong with the black hole of modern culture, and reacts with darkly comedic and violent rebuttals that are incredibly cathartic exercises in storytelling, while also reveling in the inherent conditioning we’ve undertaken in this society. At the end of the film, Frank and Roxy have made their point, but they’re on the road to being exploited and used by opportunists seeking a headline just like everyone else. Director Bobcat Goldthwait’s “God Bless America” is a brilliant, fearless, and merciless indictment of American culture, and how we’ve become the lowest common denominator. With riveting performances and a slick sense of humor Goldthwait’s film is destined to be a classic.