THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING: As Told By Raymond Pettibon


Sundays this August, Spectacle presents three classic tapes by Raymond Pettibon.

Know mostly for his prolific production of profound, abrasive pen-and-ink drawings that pitch-perfectly skewer the confounding, sickening and day-to-day aspects of modern American existence, our program features Pettibon’s filmic examinations of a long-term obsession of his: the incestuous and nefarious worlds of American Subculture, its private languages, aesthetics, ideologies — and its specific and violent contradictions .  These films train Pettibon’s singular black humor, his scrappy DIY approach, and his biting, incisive dialogue on three of the most notorious subcultures of recent history: The Manson Family, Patty Hearst and her Symbionese Liberation Army, and The Weather Underground.  Starring, among others, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Mike Watt, Pat Smear, Dez Cadena and other legends of California’s underground scene of the 1980’s.

Special thanks to Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). Catalogue texts reprinted with permission.


Dir. Raymond Pettibon, 1989
USA. 122 mins.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 4th – 7:30PM & 10PM

Featuring a cast that includes Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, Mike Watt of the legendary hardcore band Minutemen, and Pettibon himself, this deadpan narrative pays dubious homage to the 1960’s radical underground. In this crudely rendered home video of a commune of stoned revolutionaries, the cameras are hand-held, the edits in-camera, and the dialogue is wryly on-target. Pettibon’s band of outsiders reenacts a countercultural moment defined by rock music, drugs, and ideological paradox — and in so doing, captures their own late-80’s West Coast grunge milieu as well.


Dir. Raymond Pettibon, 1989
USA. 118 mins.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11th – 7:30PM & 10PM

A day in the life of Manson and his dysfunctional family, as filtered through Pettibon’s distinctive sensibility. In this fictional verite drama, Pettibon and co-director Dave Markey envision the paranoid obsessions and violent anomie of an apocalyptic cult in the waning of the 1960s. As in all of Pettibon’s tapes, the sense of insularity (they all appear to be shot in one living room), the slacker/punk aesthetic, and the deadpan ensemble of amateur actors combine with Pettibon’s startlingly original writing to form a bleakly ironic, if often outrageous, evocation of an American subculture.


dir. Raymond Pettibon, 1989
USA. 87 minutes.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25th – 7:30PM & 10PM

The 1970’s saga of heiress Patty Hearst’s abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Army — and her subsequent transformation into a gun-toting radical — is told as an absurdist drama of countercultural alienation. The tape’s raw, deliberately home-made execution provides an abject theater for the crude sexual and racial politics of the would-be revolutionaries.

One thought on “THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING: As Told By Raymond Pettibon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.