In search of true reality TV and breasts
This film, directed by "News Dissector" Danny Schecter, is a very structured look at George Urban's life-long obsession with the ladies, tracing his youth, his legendary role in the early days of cable television, his more recent activities and his legacy. Loaded with sexual footage from George's series and archival photos, it tries to tell several stories, using George as a focal and jumping-off point. First and foremost is the is the growth of sex in the media, moving from the underground of stag reels to mainstream America, a change that coincided with George's glory days.
Ugly George's story is not a positive one, as, despite being a part of cable's massive growth in the '80s, he never made much money doing what he did, and in the age of the Internet, he's a bit of a relic, battling for attention with incredibly easy access to much more explicit porn. Unfortunately for him, he's not exactly a sympathetic character, claiming responsibility for half the innovations in TV and possessing an incredibly sleazy personality. Plus, the fact that someone so kooky could convince so many women to get naked, isn't about to get him a lot of compassion from men or women, though Schechter manages to find a few people who fondly remember George (or more precisely his show.)
Beyond the cable TV economics and history lessons, Schechter delves into other related areas, including the objectification of women (with help from a filmmaker who confronts wolfwhistlers) and men's obsession with breasts (via participation by experts and critics (and offering space for plenty of gratuitous video)), as well as Ugly George's true role as either a harbinger or pioneer of today's reality TV landscape. Long before TMZ, Ugly George was bothering celebrities like Deborah Harry and Ted Knight on their own turf, and if you could bring the young George to today, his knack and passion for self-promotion would make him bigger than Tila Tequila.
Though no good documentary is ever really objective, it's pretty obvious that Schechter is at least partially on Ugly George's side, especially when he takes his camera to the gates of Time Warner's castle, making a point about the corporate empire built with help from George's popular show pushing him away before eventually embracing its own brand of televised sex. It's a pretty obvious pushing of his media agenda, almost hijacking George's story. But then, when the cameras watch George try his shtick at the 2006 Greenwich Village Halloween parade, perhaps he's really just on his own, like it's always been.
The audio is delivered as a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack that handles the dialogue cleanly and presents some strong music, but nothing about the sound will impress much, as the material just doesn't lend itself to a dynamic mix.
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