LINK | Posted by Robin on Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Evocateur chronicles the rise and fall of Morton Downey Jr., son of Hollywood royalty and the pioneer, if you will, of trash television. I am embarrassed to say, even as quite the pop culture scholar that I fancy myself, I did not know much about his talk show. I was only ten when the Morton Downey Jr. Show was in its heyday, which lasted about two years, a mere blip on our attention spans.
Evocateur is a documentary that is well-crafted enough that it is nearly impossible not to be intrigued. The film also does its due diligence with covering Downey Jr.'s upbringing and rise to fame.. As the son of a Hollywood legend and a close friend of the Kennedy family, Downey Jr. seemed to have a charmed life. However, we are led to believe that he was a troubled man, always trying to live up to his father's ideals, and trying to use fame to cure his incredible insecurities. This angle is not uncommon among celebrity profiles, but it is a bold move to create this as a thesis statement, considering Downey Jr. is no longer with us and can't say anything in his defense.
Downey Jr., or at least the one portrayed on his show, was a total asshole. He had guests on to discuss things, yet never had any intent on discussing anything. Inevitably, he would end up screaming in their faces and kicking them off the set. He was especially known to go head-to-head with Al Sharpton, especially during the time of the Tawana Brawley case, in which a young woman was found to have made false claims about her rape and torture. In the biggest example of irony even a high school freshman could point out, Downey Jr. concocted his own fabricated attack in a last attempt for attention and fame.
Evocateur not only lets the audience know about the psyche of a man, but gives us a glimpse into how "news" and "entertainment" have merged into one vapid blob that is hard to discern. Downey Jr.'s shouting matches with guests are often how so-called "news" programs illustrate how to have a discussion. In fact, Jerry Springer owes a lot to Morton Downey, Jr. Like him or not, Evocateur will certainly convince you that he was a lot more complex than he may have appeared.