Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bling Bling: Bling-a-Long (2005)

Of all the gloriously, semantically twisted terms that hip-hop culture has given us, "bling-bling" has had the most meteoric rise and fall. Initially a slang term for gaudy gold jewelery, "bling-bling" also came to encompass the whole ghetto mindset of ostentatious displays of wealth. Its first mainstream use was in a BG song in 1999 and the term took off quickly. Less than half a decade later, the ever sharp pop-cultural weathervane known as MTV declared the term dead, its use having been appropriated by everyone from stockbrokers to soccer moms.

Somewhere a long the way, some Las Vegas schizophrenic crackhead decided to appropriate "Bling-Bling" as his street name; possibly out of irony since his life looks like anything but the Cristal and Courvoisier swilling ones of top rappers. Obsessed with alien abduction and the all encompassing search for the rock, Bling-Bling now has his own DVD out, where he is billed as "The World's Most Famous Crackhead" (though I think Whitney Houston might dispute that title...)

Bling will be immediately recognizable to those who've seen Bumfights, the DVD that has allegedly inspired a generation of camera-toting sociopaths to assault the homeless. Produced by Indecline, the same skater-wastrels responsible for that series, Bling-a-Long follows it's eponymous character as he perpetrates drug-fueled pranks around Las Vegas.

Bling-a-Long is a continuation of Indecline's "Jackass without a soul" formula. While there are short clips of Bling rifling through a sleeping bum's pockets or giving one a swift kick to the leg as they doze at a bus stop, Bling-a-Long is less immediately morally objectionable than Bumfights. There's no "Bumhunter" wrestling and duct-taping terrified sleeping indigents. There's no bone breaking fights, indeed nothing worse than a little vandalism. Basically nothing that would send Nancy Grace into a mouth frothing tirade. Unless you're like my wife, who finds the idea of enabling an addict to do drugs on camera and then humiliate himself inherently offensive, Bling-a-Long is a fairly tame piece, no worse than any number of video clips you can find online.

That said, some of the scenes did manage to get a chuckle out of me. The movie is at its best when Bling fucks with Wal-Mart security guards, or gets tossed out of an adult video shop for playing with his cock in the middle of the store. The part where the Indecline crew mercilessly mocks Bling for being unable to get an erection for an impending threeway with two hookers is better anti-drug propaganda than all the DARE programs in the world put together. His erectile dysfunction might have something to do with the penis piercing he submits to for the cameras. If you want to know up close and personal what it looks like to get a Prince Albert, this is your video.

Still, Bling-a-Long is rarely as hilarious as it should be. The only scene that got me to laugh out loud was when Bling smokes a hit of crack in the middle of a church right after being baptized, but that might just be my general antipathy towards religion in general. Bling-a-Long lifts footage from Bumfights to fill out its paltry running time, most notably the "Bling's Rehab" bit, where his leg is chained to a metal post and he is left for hours with a loaded crackpipe and a hundred dollar bill just out of his reach. It was one of the better scenes from Bumfights 2, and an appropriate inclusion for a Bling-themed video. But with Bling-a-Long retailing at 19.99 and coming in at under 40 minutes, one would like all original content.

More annoying is that it's incomplete. The "Cooking With Bling-Bling" segment (guess what he's cooking?) starts promisingly, yet ends abruptly just after he snorts some "Pablo Escobar" shit off a Bible. In the ads and trailers, you're informed that to see the full cooking scene, you must purchase Bling-Bling's rap CD (which comes with Bling-Bling wallpapers and screensavers for your computer...yay...)There is nothing compelling enough about Bling-a-Long that would compell me to purchase that CD.

Besides, most of Bling-Bling's raps can be found on the Bling-a-Long DVD anyway. His truly bizarre rap videos bridge the prank segments of Bling-a-Long. Jay-Z he's not. Bling's nasally delivery is nearly incomprehensible most of the time (so much so that the lyrics are subtitled with a bouncing crack rock so you can, you know, "bling-a-long"). The production is similarly amateurish, but the subject matter is almost compellingly surreal. It's as if Timothy Leary suddenly started to write rap lyrics. Just the title of "Time for Breeding" automatically puts it above your average "bitches'n'hoes" type fare.

Bling-a-Long pretty much defies any metric of quality. If I did a rating scale, I'd give it four bong-hits since that's how many you'll need before you're primed for Bling-a-Long's style of humor. Unfortunately, even if you relate to Bling-a-Long on its own juvenile, amoral terms, it still feels lacking. Clips of Bling-a-Long are readily available all over the net, and I'm betting you'll be pretty safe from the MPAA should you decide to pick it up via Bittorrent. I truly cannot recommend spending actual money on the disc like I did. At least it was just a used copy for 6.99, but even at that price I feel cheated. I'd encourage the fellows at Indecline to step up their game, but that would likely just lead to a new round of jail sentences. Perhaps that would be a good thing.

Click here to see my review of the original Bumfights.


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