Balls, man. Humongous steel balls. That’s what Aaron Raskin has, for doing a short digital film like “Broadcast Quality” that literally has something to piss everyone off. Of course, if you’ve got the dough, the resources, and whatever else you need for filming, do what you like.
In Raskin’s case, it all starts off at CTV, where ratings seem to constantly elude the station. An intern (Chris Flammeng), decked out in a Captain Picard shirt, hands executives Walter (Steve Devito) and Jill (Lizzie Simon) a submission for an open call….3 weeks late. There’s good excuse for that, as the tape was from Afghanistan. Walter pops it in, pushes “play” and on comes “The Uncle Bin Laden Show”, which seems to have been created for the kiddies. He (Hasan Iqbal) begins the show with “Are you ready to wage a little jihad?” before the theme song comes on in a sing along form where you just have to follow the bouncing Osama. Topics on his show range from turning a teddy bear into a little suicide bomber to testing out chemical weapons (which will not make dog lovers happy, especially me).
The White House gets wind of this and President Bush (Michael Mclaughlin) holds a meeting with his advisors on what to do. There’s talk of invoking the U.S. “Patriot Act” and shutting down the show, but it is soon realized that if the show becomes “banned material”, then the ratings will skyrocket. Then a fizzling lightbulb comes on: Bush will create his own show as counter programming to Bin Laden’s act. The result is “Pa Bush’s Ranch of Wonder”, where he brings up plenty of patriotism, and a girl is even on the show that Bush assigns to root out terrorism. In a meeting later on, finding out those ratings still aren’t up to Osama’s level, Bush decides that he wants to “introduce handgun safety to little patriots,” and bring in a clown that appeals to “non-traditionalist lifestyles”. I’m surprised it didn’t go as far as bring Cheney in as “Heart Attack Man”.
Raskin’s ways of satire are incredibly brave and he even targets networks like CNN and FOX News by the headlines that run on one network, that include one out of three Americans becoming functionally illiterate, and the Tulsa Chief of Police vowing that a 12-year old serial killer will fry. Search the Internet and you won’t find a thing about director Aaron Raskin. You’ll find something about a RABBI Aaron Raskin, but that’s definitely not the same person; not with the material here. Perhaps it’s better this way, to be a bathroom graffiti artist of sorts: Make your mark and never be seen.
“Broadcast Quality” is entertaining, but it all depends on your stance of issues presented here. If watching Bush make more of an idiot of himself on TV or watching Osama try to appeal to kids tickles your, uh…thing, then by all means, this is for you. Good luck trying to find it for viewing purposes, though. Somehow, I feel like I might actually have one of the only copies around. This isn’t material that’s exactly flaunted around at film festivals, so if it actually makes some sort of appearance and you’re aware of it, go for it and bask in something that’s truly unafraid to say what it wants.
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