Directed by: Todd Phillips
What happened to danger in rock n’ roll? GG Allin was danger personified. Arguably the last American punk; he inserted sausages and bananas up his arsehole and he bled onstage, usually from self-inflicted wounds. GG was a showman and his act was a malevolent performance art piece. He was an extremist, an insult to our senses.
Todd Phillips, who does a pretty good job with this documentary, just needed to shoot and stay quiet, but instead he tried to intervene, add to the chaos, and create a moment. The worst scene of this doc comes after Phillips organizes a one man show at NYU. The performance goes disastrously awry as Allin, frustrated by the lack of crowd participation, becomes irate and campus security quickly shuts the whole thing down. There is something almost sad about this scene. It’s the only time in the documentary when I felt sympathetic towards Allin, as Phillips sends him to the lions, where he is ridiculed by intellectuals with weak stomachs.
A fan called Unk who contributes throughout the doc sums up the appeal of Allin’s act best when he asks the camera – “Why do people want to go to freakshows?” There is a curiosity factor about Allin, and though it can be said that people to this day still want to pay to be shocked and appalled. We wanna swallow down that visceral horrid entertainment that we’ve craved since Roman times. Of course nowadays such on stage shenanigans has been sanitized somewhat, and cannot be compared to Allin, Miley Cyrus for example rides an inflatable penis on her current arena tour but she is still sanitized a carefully managed brand. Marilyn Manson in recent times would blaspheme and ape Alice Cooper but likely at the end of the day he would retreat back to the tour bus and calmly drink peppermint tea. Nobody compares to Allin.
Allin attacked his crowd, he owed them nothing, they came to gawp and therefore they were part of his performance, fair game to be sucker punched and spat on. Allin says something quite interesting later in the doc, stating that if he wasn’t in stage he’d probably be a murderer. Now this isn’t like a rapper saying if I wasn’t doing this I’d be dead or in prison just for thug kudos. No, when Allin says this you get a chill. Had he lived longer he probably really would’ve killed somebody.
Maybe he’s the most convincing performer there’s ever been. Was there a lighter side, some humanity to the man? Based on the evidence on this documentary you’d say no. The disturbing element of this film is when GG Allin talks about committing suicide on stage. A ginger haired woman screams from the audience, asking him why he doesn’t kill himself sooner. She’s invited on stage, and Allin savagely attacks her. Luckily she is saved by a few brave souls, but Christ, this is horrible to watch. That sums it up really; GG Allin was horrible to watch. But still we didn’t close our eyes or turn away.