first review of 24 hours on craigslist

first review of 24 hours on craigslist

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from Pop Matters

Such pointlessness, however, seemed to be precisely the idea behind 24 Hours on Craigslist. Documenting the San Francisco based website's influence in the span of a single day, the filmmakers sent out eight crews all over the city to create a montage of the bizarre stories behind the site's thousands of posts.

For the uninitiated, craigslist is a sort of virtual Greensheets. Anyone can post ads for goods or services (to sell or to buy) for free. Since the site's creation in 1995, craigslist has grown from San Francisco to offering the same service to over thirty cities around the world, with plans to provide for dozens more. The posts are also almost entirely uncensored (some drug references are coded to avoid prosecution), which makes for some extraordinarily compelling ads. Consider this post, taken off the Austin craigslist at random (apparently in honor of St. Patrick's Day):

"Looking for some Irish charm, Gaelic sensuality and wit? I'm fit, fun, and very skilled in the Hibernian oral arts. Find out why 69% of the world's women, when given a choice, choose Irish men. Looking for single women and couples for a wee bit of sensual fun. Discreet, honest, and eminently trustworthy."

This, then, is the stuff of 24 Hours on Craigslist. The film documents such rare characters as a male Ethel Merman impersonator looking to start a heavy metal cover band, a couple interested in setting up a support group for owners of diabetic cats, and a gay porn star advertising his services as "porn star massage." The film spends time with a multitude of similarly "unique" people, all of whom are inclined toward their own particular brands of idiosyncrasy.

The movie is careful to make the case, however, that craigslist is more than just a meeting place for freaks. Following the antics of a flash mob (those groups who descend en masse to pre-designated meeting places as instructed by text messages on their cell phones), the film draws a parallel between these groups and craigslist users as members of a community. We are all unique together, the argument goes. In this sense, the documentary is an interesting example of postmodern anthropology, looking at a group whose only affiliation is via the World Wide Web.

For groups or for individuals, both 24 Hours on Craigslist and Young Adam explore the notion of the alternative. Whether it's anonymous encounters with Scottish housewives or a husband and wife Judo team, the films turn a critical eye toward the accepted standards of what passes for "normal" these days. The idea seems an apt one for SXSW. As midnight struck in Austin, revelers turned toward the city's drinking quarter, housed on the (in)famous 6th street. Music blared over the asphalt, drunken buddies careened arm in arm down the sidewalk, and a man wearing a Burger King crown and sunglasses slapped away at a bass guitar, singing into the night. Vive le difference.

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