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Jennifer Merin

Is Art & Copy a Docuvertisement?

By August 21, 2009

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Doug Pray's latest documentary, Art & Copy, turns out to be more of a love poem to the advertising industry than an investigation of it, and what a wasted opportunity it is.

While the film rightly recognizes the ad biz as immensely influential, and as one of the main shapers of contemporary society, it neglects to raise any questions about its degree of social resposibility.

Pray presents a parade of top admen and women, each of whom expounds on the nature and importance of creativity and on how the entertaining advertisements they produce excite expectations and aspirations in those who see them. But there's a complete avoidance of advertising's questionable strategies and practices, and a disconnect from the role advertising plays in energizing excessive consumerism that has promoted extraordinary and damaging debt.

After watching this film, you feel like to need a dose of documentary reality, like that provided by the more sobering I.O.U.S.A. and entertaining What Would Jesus Buy?. Watch the Art & Copy trailer and read my full review.

(IMAGE: 'Art & Copy' Poster Art. Courtesy Seventh Art Releasing).


August 24, 2009 at 11:12 am
(1) a says:

I guess you missed the point. The doc is an attempt to highlight what’s best about the industry. And it succeeds at that task. Sorry it didn’t conform to what you wanted it to be.

August 24, 2009 at 12:13 pm
(2) Jennifer Merin says:

Thanks very much for leaving your comment, which so neatly supports my thesis that this film is a piece of pro-advertising propaganda or, as I’ve termed it, a docuvertisement.

But, in case my position confluses you, let me clarify: I don’t want the film to come to any predetermined conclusions — pro, con or sitting on the fence –about its subject. I just want some balance — which is a fairly standard requsite in any nonfiction film that claims to observe and report on a subject from a non-biased point of view.

This film doesn’t live up to that standard, and therefore loses its legitimacy. What’s presented raises all sorts of distracting, disturbing questions — not so much about the nature of the film’s subject, but about responsible documetary filmmaking and the filmmaker. What was Pray out to prove? Why did he make this film? Who paid for it?

I’d expect that audiences who see this film would have similar questions and be as curious as I am to know what Pray has to say in response to them.

Again, thanks for your comment, and the opportunity to make my position clearer.

Jennifer Merin

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