SXSW FILM 2010
By Don Simpson | April 5, 2010
Director: Malcolm Ingram
Featuring: Bob Mould and Kevin Smith
Dirk Sonniksen’s review of Bear Nation covers most of what I have to say about Malcolm Ingram’s documentary. So rather than have two Smells Like Screen Spirit scribes writing the exact same thing, here is the link to Dirk’s review as well as Dirk’s interview with my favorite bear of them all, Bob Mould.
Now for my two cents…and please note that Dirk covered everything that I liked about Bear Nation, so my review as written is going to come off as being very critical and negative. That is not my intention. Just pretend that I wrote everything that Dirk already wrote, and what follows is merely an addendum…or something like that.
As much as I enjoyed and appreciated Bear Nation, I really felt as though it was missing something. Bear Nation is a great overview of the two differing perspectives of “what is a bear?” (There are essentially two camps of bears – the doughy and scruffy camp and the burly body-builder camp.) As an outsider I find this debate quite intriguing, mainly because I am curious about why the two camps – which are quite the opposite in philosophy and appearance, especially when it comes to body image – can’t just agree to disagree?
Why do they both have to be called bears? (That right there is the exact question that I really wanted Ingram to discuss.) I understand that both camps are of the opinion that they were bears first, but maybe they can have some sort of meeting of the minds and agree on a compromise. Maybe they can be different types of bears – I don’t know…something like grizzly bears and teddy bears? Again, I am revealing my naivety as an outsider.
The true highlights of Bear Nation are Kevin Smith and the aforementioned Bob Mould. Like Dirk, I was initially put off by Smith’s inclusion in the documentary, but his perspective was so different than everyone else’s that for once he was a breath of fresh air (rather than a whole lot of hot air). Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) also had a little something different to say to Ingram’s camera – so maybe that’s why his interview footage stands out. Otherwise, it really seemed like most of the talking head interviews were saying the same things over and over again (essentially, “a bear is…”).
On a somewhat related side-note…Dirk, Dave Campbell and I attended the Bear Nation after-party at SXSW 2010. As I wrote in my half hungover blog post the morning after – bears (both kinds) really do know how to party. They treated us non-bears very kindly with an open bar at the Red 7. Bob Mould deejayed – which, as a fan of Husker Du and Sugar, was a blast to see! I never would have even dreamed that I would witness Mould spinning electronic dance music and dancing! It was a pretty awesome experience and a perfect bookend to my first Bob Mould experience (Husker Du in Philadelphia in support of Candy Apple Grey back in the mid-1980s).