A short film about a much tattooed and pierced young man in search of the next step in body modification. Spoilers follow.
The first half of the 17 minute film consists of footage of Jerome driving his car through Austin, Texas and explaining his philosophy of life. Jerome learned about tattooing and piercing when he moved to Austin and began reading "Details Magazine"; he views his adornments as akin to tribal practices, where piercing and scarification sometimes figure in ceremonial rite of passage. He also considers them expressions of his pain and anger at the oppression he suffers in the modern world. He makes reference to a documentary he saw about "lifers", people in prison for life, and opines that he too is a lifer, imprisoned in the jail of his existence. In his mind he is aligned with all the world's downtrodden people, and when the filmaker interjects that "real" oppression is rather different, Jerome doesn't want to hear it.
He comes across as a pathetic pseudo-intellectual white boy attempting to justify his ennui by imagining that his life is hard, so hard.
But now it's the new millenium. Tattooes are common, piercings mundane, and Jerome is looking to go to the next level. So he's driving to an appointment where he's going to get shot.
Jerome pulls up in front of a suburban carport and knocks on the garage door; Ray responds. Jerome is all posturing and angst; Ray is an affable modern hippie type ... with a difference: in his garage he's got a toolbox full of guns and ammunition.
Ray shoots people as a form of body art, and he's more than willing to shoot Jerome. They discuss a mutual acquaintance, Steve, who wears one of Ray's body artworks. Then Jerome hands Ray 500 dollars - cash, of course, for this kind of body modification isn't legal ... yet - and Ray gets down to business. They discuss the type of firearm and bullet Ray will use, and where he will shoot Jerome - through the muscle between the shoulder and the armpit. Ray describes how it will feel - it'll sting a bit, kind of like a tattoo. He explains that his buddy Booker will be outside with an ambulance, ready to whisk Jerome off to a hospital for painkillers and anaesthetic. Then Ray dons a rubber apron, disposable gloves, and safety goggles. He tells Jerome he should wear goggles and ear protection, but Jerome refuses the latter, wanting the full experience. Ray arranges Jerome in an old dentist's chair with his arm extended in front of a pile of sandbags; he says he'll shoot at the count of three, as Jerome looks decidedly fidgety.
By this time I was finding the whole thing excruciating. Will he go through with it? Ray counts "one..." then unexpectedly shoots; Jerome convulses and curses with pain. We see Jerome being hustled off to the ambulance, then Ray returns, obviously pumped, chuckling somewhat maniacally as he assures the camera that Jerome will be fine.
I took this little film at face value when I saw it, and was appropriately horrified and disgusted at the lengths bored white kids will go for a thrill. Thus when I did a google search, I was shocked to find people referring to it as a comedy, for if it's a comedy, it's a cruel one, akin to "American Movie", which profiles a filmaker who takes his bad art so seriously that it never occurs to him that the audience views him as a joke. It took me a few minutes to realize that "Delusions of Modern Primitivism" is a mockumentary, not a documentary, and I must say I'm relieved, for that makes it a black comedy instead of a sadly pathetic tragedy. I've got to say too that I feel rather gullible, for it never occurred to me that the incident I was viewing wasn't real.
This short got an honourable mention at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
The filmaker, Daniel Loflin, has a website at home.earthlink.net/~dloflin/loflinfilm.htm.