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Review by Tim Plant
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/17/2009, 1:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts
ERIN DAVIES KNOWS how to make lemons into lemonade — or hate into the activism equivalent. When her VW Beetle was vandalized with the phrases ”fag” and ”ur gay” (why can’t hate crimers ever seem to know how to spell?), rather than erase the offense, she embraced it and used a summer break from college to take the Bug on a road trip across the US and Canada.
Fagbug is the end result of Davies’ cross-country trek, which she filmed along the way. Shot and directed by Davies, the film captures moments both uncomfortable and banal, because there are only so many times you can watch Mr. and Mrs. Middle America express their opinion about the car. Many of the interviews feel forced and repetitive, and the issues she raises are merely touched upon than delved into.
At the root of the film there’s an inspiring story: Davies undertook a mighty challenge and should be commended for not sitting back and forgetting the vandalism. Across the miles, friendships are formed, car problems encountered, random acts of kindness performed, and inevitably, more hate spewed. But the execution is not without its flaws. There’s an inherent danger in playing every significant role in creating a documentary — loss of perspective.
During the film, there’s a question that’s repeated over and over again: What is Davies trying to achieve with her trip, blog, and eventually her film? Awareness? Change? A summer vacation? As she points out, the vast majority of negative comments came from within the gay community itself. While kudos to Davies for addressing these issues head-on, she does herself no favors by including musical selections with lyrics that seems self-aggrandizing.
Issues aside, Davies’ end result is commendable, and if Fagbug makes even a few think twice, then it deserves to stay on the road.