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Film / Privilege

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Privilege is a 1967 British mockumentary film directed by Peter Watkins.

Steven Shorter (Paul Jones) is the biggest pop star in Great Britain, loved and worshipped by the entire country. His handlers take advantage of his popularity to manipulate the public, using him for everything from selling dog food to promoting social conformity. When an artist named Vanessa Ritchie (Jean Shrimpton) is commissioned to paint Steve's portrait, she realizes how trapped and unhappy he really is, and with her encouragement, Steve starts to rebel against his handlers.

Privilege contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The movie takes place in "Britain, the near future," in what is implied to be sometime in the early 1970s.
  • Alliterative Name: Steven Shorter.
  • Anger Montage: When Steve sees footage of his first conformity-promoting rally, he's so disgusted that he trashes the room.
  • Book Ends: The movie opens with a short clip of Steve saying, "I would just like to say to you all how happy I am to be back in Britain after my American tour." The credits play over an extended version of the clip, in black and white and with the sound removed.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Steve is utterly exhausted from his years of fame and the constant demands on his time and energy. Everyone sees him as either a deity or a pawn rather than a human being, and he isn't allowed to have any personality traits or interests that aren't approved by his handlers.
  • Christian Rock: Steve's handlers strike an agreement with the government and the Church of England for Steve to convert to Christianity in order to promote national unity. The violence is removed from his show, and his band starts playing rock versions of songs like "Onward Christian Soldiers."
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-universe example. Steve's stage show involves being placed in handcuffs that make his wrists bleed, beaten by police officers, and locked in a cage. The public thinks it's all an act, but he really is being beaten, leaving him with real scars and bruises.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Record executive Julie Jordan.
  • In-Universe Catharsis: The violence of Steve's show is intended to allow the youth to harmlessly release their emotions to keep them "happy, off the streets, and out of politics."
  • The Merch: In-universe example. Steve drinks from a mug shaped like his head.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Steve's first Christian show includes Nazi salutes and black cards reading "WE WILL CONFORM."
  • Reluctant Fanservice Guy: Steve hates doing shirtless photo shoots.
  • Teen Idol: Steve's concerts are filled with screaming, crying teenage girls.
  • Tickertape Parade: Steve is given "the first tickertape welcome in the history of Britain" when he returns from his American tour.