WORKS / WHAT IS IT?
WHAT IS IT?
2005 / DIR. CRISPIN HELLION GLOVER / 82 MINUTES
Released in 2005, What is it? is Crispin Hellion Glover's debut feature film. In an allusion to A Clockwork Orange, Glover has described it as "being the adventures of a young man whose principle interests are snails, salt, a pipe, and how to get home. As tormented by an hubristic, racist inner psyche."
What is it? features a number of actors who have Down Syndrome, although they are not necessarily portraying characters who have the condition. The film also explores a variety of taboo themes. Glover explains:
"What is it? is not a film about Down's Syndrome but my psychological reaction to the corporate restraints that have happened in the last 20 to 30 years in film making. Specifically anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable is necessarily excised or the film will not be corporately funded or distributed. This is damaging to the culture because it is the very moment when an audience member sits back in their chair looks up at the screen and thinks to [themself] "Is this right what I am watching? Is this wrong what I am watching? Should I be here? Should the filmmaker have made this? What is it?" - and that is the title of the film.
"What is it that is taboo in the culture? What does it mean that taboo has been ubiquitously excised in this culture's media? What does it mean to the culture when it does not properly process taboo in its media? It is a bad thing ... when questions are not being asked because these kinds of questions are when people are having a truly educational experience. For the culture to not be able to ask questions leads towards a non educational experience and that is what is happening in this culture. This stupefies the culture... So What is it? is a direct reaction to the contents [of] this culture's media."
As well as directing, Crispin Glover also acts in the film, as does Stephen C. Stewart who would later play the lead in It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE.