I guess you could call “shithouse poet” extraordinaire Mitch Mitchell a talented guy, just like I guess you could call “Germ of a New Insanity” a cheeky good time. After all, for reasons I’ll never fathom, Eminem is consistently praised by critics and fans alike for his “smart” lyrics about well, mostly himself and… nothing else really. To be honest, I don’t get it. What’s so cool or interesting about rhyming for rhyming’s sake? And at what point do shamelessly egotistical, misogynistic, and homophobic lyrics just get old? But Mitch Mitchell, while perhaps a distant, subversive cousin, is no Eminem (thankfully). In fact, Mitch Mitchell, the (obviously) thinly veiled alter ego of writer/producer/co-director Josh Mitchell, is a man on a mission, a “Jerry Maguire on speed”, an underground hero’s underground hero. His mission is this: to spread the art of “shithouse poetry” onto every open square inch of public space (restrooms, walls, bus shelters, etc.) he can find and in so doing, change the world. Hitting the head at some local dive, you’ve probably even seen some of the master’s more pronounced poisonous proclamations, which include, “All politics are loco”, “Judge not by the color of the skin, but by what one can do with his wanker”, and “I just got a happy ending.” Yup, they’re all Mitch Mitchell’s.
“Germ of a New Insanity” is the self-proclaimed King of the S**t’s rags-to-riches-to-rags story. It’s fashioned in an inspired mockumentary style and features first-person accounts from Mitch’s friends, as well as random passers-by, while Mitch trails behind, oblivious. We first meet this verbal vigilante just before his virgin eyes witness the overdosing of his old man on coke. Emotional scars in check, we jump forward some 17 years to when this “bombastic bastard from Boston” is a minimum wager in a crummy paint store. Fed up with his boss’s diabolical anal retentiveness, this chronically masturbating nympho quits his job and kick starts the shithouse poetry movement, in which people from all walks of life are encouraged to verbally express themselves in public places in either the written or spoken word. Despite the mayor’s condemnation, the movement spreads “like gremlins in a shower” and for Mitch, fame, fortune, a bevy of one-nighters, a book deal, and even love ensue. It’s all good until the price of fame finally kicks in.
As the “embodiment of a raised middle finger”, Josh Mitchell has charisma to spare. He’s funny as hell, passionate, smart, charming, and of course talented. Men admire his way with words, while women admire his way with his wanker. But then again, Mitch Mitchell can also be completely and utterly insufferable. And this is ultimately the downfall of “Germ”: too much Mitch! Okay, we get that the whole instant celebrity thing has clearly gone to Mitch’s head and thus his arrogance. We get that that’s what we’re supposed to think, but we never really buy it. Unless Josh Mitchell is one hell of an actor, I suspect him and co-director Patrick Ryan were really just living out a fantasy with the character of Mitch, what with his requisite cool-guy shades (even at night), inexplicable irresistibility to the opposite sex, and myriad of references to pop cultural obscura. Mitchell may have charisma, but as an actor he has two expressions: smug and obnoxiously smug. By the end of the film, Mitch has turned into a rather loathsome dude with nothing and no one. Yet I couldn’t care less, for it seems forced and entirely against the grain of the most of the film. Still, it’s hard to dismiss a film that can make even Lite Brite, the Avon Lady, and Huey Lewis seem cool. And just the soundtrack alone, which features Mitchell’s punk band Wickid Pissa, makes the film worth a look see.