Meet the People

US 1986

The fictions of the self overtly concern Shelly Silver in her tour-de-force „Meet the People“. In video vérité style, she swiftly intercuts what appear to be her interviews of 14 individuals representing contemporary New York types: a cabby, a waitress, a housewife, a stripper, an Italian construction worker, a black army officer. The „characters“ face the camera in talking head close-ups and speak about their work and private lives, their dreams and ideas about the future. The intimacy and honesty of their fragmented, „autobiographical“ storytelling is illusory; at the end the credits reveal that all 14 are actors and all were apparently reading the director's script.

So Shelly Silver dramatizes how deceptive, and entertaining, are the canned characters of TV's supposed realism, from its man-in-the-street comments on the news to its casting of „real people“ in commercials. Silver's fake documentary also asks what separates the stereotype from the individual and how we construct unique character and sociological type - from what nonverbal cues of physiognomy, dress, accent, expression, etc., in addition to what is said. Silver wittily questions the very idea of the authentic … ultimately she implies, „personal truth“ is a momentary and collaborative invention, a triborough bridge between actor, author-director, and audience - on TV and on the street.

(Anne Hoy)

Shelly Silver (US), Meet the People, 1986, Video, 16:32 min, col

Excerpt "Meet the People"