Antifa performance artist and indie film director Rod Webber attended most of the newsworthy campaign events and protests leading up to the 2020 United States Presidential Election. 2020: The Dumpster Fire is his on-the-ground document of these events. A crew composed of hacker and “principled agitator” Lauren Pespisa, and Vermin Supreme, another political absurdist (and recurring candidate) who attends events wearing a rubber boot on his head, accompany Webber.
There is something to be said for decorum. It’s a concept that’s been sorely missed in our cultural conversation. Showing basic respect for someone’s right to conduct their activities without a maelstrom of insane noise and disruption would be a welcome relief from the almost-religious fervor that drives much of our contemporary public discourse. With that said, Webber’s coverage is chaotic and loud. He frequently instigates the incidents instead of simply covering them. He is seen shouting at police and security officers about his first amendment rights. He’s gone so far as to sue a candidate’s security team for ejecting him in the name of decorum (getting a $20K settlement out of that lawsuit). He trolls candidates with great enthusiasm, seemingly as much to be noticed as to promote any particular issue or platform. He shouts ridiculous questions or something about the conspiracy-theory-of-the-day or stages a flag-burning or other provocative performance. It’s all rather puerile.
“…seen shouting at police and security officers about his first amendment rights.”
Artists like Webber don’t need a reason to cause disorder other than to jam the existing social and political structures and call attention to themselves. Disruption is the goal; well, that and monetized social media click counts. His performances are a circus show: Webber waving a burning U.S. flag, Vermin with his rubber boot, carrying their sign-du-jour and cavorting with raucous glee, capering their Danse Macabre around groups which are easily set off by strong opinions. It’s all done for the cameras and seems to work as intended.
I know it sounds like I hated 2020: The Dumpster Fire, as I felt, in the beginning, the whole affair was just entitled whining people angling for a progressive ideal and did not present any possible near-term reality. I am certain that Webber and I would not get along if we sat down to discuss his actions. For a while, I didn’t see that the documentary was adding anything to the conversation. Stay with it as things change.
"…trolls candidates with great enthusiasm..."