The Los Angeles-based avant-garde VJ collective TV Sheriff & The Trailbuddies brings a turntablist sensibility to piles of old videotapes, presenting frenetic image-mixes, all while wearing the cheap costumes of a cable-access kiddie show. Their performances are self-consciously garish and intentionally unfunny, owing a whopping debt to Negativland and experimental filmmakers like Martin Arnold. Between the jarring electronic music and nightmarish montages, The Trailbuddies strive to recreate the sucked-dry vapidity of TV overload—that feeling of sinking into the couch with a remote in one hand and a bottle of aspirin in the other.
They may do their jobs too well. Across the hourlong DVD Not 4 $ale, The Trailbuddies scatter only a few hits, like "Jerry Vs. Jerry," which combines the spastic motions of Jerry Lewis with the spontaneous brawls of The Jerry Springer Show, and "OJ Shuffle (Jesus Juice)," which assembles the outtakes from an old O.J. Simpson self-help video into a sketch of a man on the edge. The set's main highlight is "Rev:USA World Of Evil Mix," which cuts together a string of innocuous comments by politicians and pundits into one blood-soaked call for war, complete with images of rotisserie meat.
None of this is all that new, either for avant-garde film or underground video-jacking. By the time The Trailbuddies get around to juxtaposing shots of Chuck Norris with a McRib ad, their gimmick has lost a lot of its meaning. Still, the group gets the effect it's going for, in large part because it has such strong materials to work with. Some of the appropriated clips would be just as pointed on their own, without any manipulation, because when properly framed, neglected cultural ephemera will always make its own meaning.
Key features: For anyone not yet exhausted, the disc contains a handful of bonus mixes.