By now it's practically a cliché to rant against the insipid nature of reality television culture. It doesn't take a genius to see how utterly worthless and mind-numbing these concoctions are. Why anyone would want to spend hours watching horrible people act horrible is beyond me. People just want to be entertained and taken out of their own lives, and they don't want to think about it. It's sad. But, naturally, the world of film has something to say about it – and a common theme through the various examples is the mindlessness of violence and how it appeals to an audience's primal natures.
This year saw the release of The Hunger Games, in which young people are forced to fight to the death while citizens of a glittery glamorous city watch. In 1987 an adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Running Man hit theaters, showcasing a world where convicted criminals are set free and then hunted for the entertainment of a television audience. A favorite of mine is the 1975 film Death Race 2000, in which motorists race across the country and score points for mowing down pedestrians. (An interesting note: the 2008 remake isn't very good, but can almost serve as an interesting sort of prequel, and so is worth checking out.)
Another example is, of course, the subject of this article: Rollerball (which was interestingly enough released just two months after Death Race 2000). The premise: in the year 2018 the world is completely controlled by corporations. There are no wars and there are no sports – except Rollerball, an ultraviolent game in which two teams skate around a circular track and try to score goals with a steel ball. The action follows the famous Jonathan E (James Caan) who the corporate overlords want taken out of the game – and he decides to fight back.
Rollerball screens at midnight tomorrow night (Saturday) at Baxter Avenue Theaters as the next installment of the Midnights at the Baxter series. Baxter Avenue Theater is located at 1250 Bardstown Road, in Mid-City Mall. Advance ticket sales and further theater information can be found at the theater's website.
Image: Internet Movie Database