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The Rainbow Man/John 3:16 (1997)

Remember that man in the rainbow-colored Afro wig who carried the "John 3:16" sign? During the 70s and 80s he seemed to be everywhere: at televised baseball and football games, shuttle ... See full summary »




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Rollen Stewart ...


Remember that man in the rainbow-colored Afro wig who carried the "John 3:16" sign? During the 70s and 80s he seemed to be everywhere: at televised baseball and football games, shuttle launches, and hundreds of other events. So who was he, and what ever happened to him? In Sam Green's award-winning new "slapstick tragedy," we find out. And the truth involving an unhappy childhood, a kidnapped hotel maid, and three life sentences in prison is stranger than fiction... Written by Anonymous

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Excellent documentary
25 August 2005 | by (Williamsburg, VA) – See all my reviews

If there were ever a poster boy for cult celebrity status, Rollen Stewart would be it. Attending live sporting events in the late 1970s as "The Rainbow Man," Stewart literally gained national attention by simply dancing and cheering in his rainbow colored Afro wig. Rock'n Rollen (as he was referred to at the time) was living the high life, appearing at parties, doing drugs and even receiving endorsement deals. However, when the 80s rolled around, Stewart became born again and decided to use his unique outlet to fame to change his message from "Party Hardy" to "Repent ye sinners!" Stewart slowly metamorphosed into John 3:16, a character who espoused his religious beliefs via hand drawn signs, much to the chagrin of TV directors everywhere. But as Stewart's religious hysteria grew, so did his outlandish attention grabbing antics as his recognition quickly disappeared. By the early 90s, Stewart continued his assault on national TV, but this time as a wanted criminal rather than jokester.

In an era seemingly obsessed with "celebritydom," Sam Green's 1997 documentary THE RAINBOW MAN/JOHN 3:16 is perfect viewing today. Stewart is the pioneer of the everyman who craves and gains instant success via television. He can also be considered the spokesman for the expired 15 minutes of fame club, an example of what can happen when that celebrity status becomes addicting yet unobtainable. Interviewing while serving three life sentences in prison, Stewart paints a woeful portrait of his life. Painfully shy as a child, Stewart relished the attention he received during his "Rainbow Man" years. But as the interest waned, he admits he became more and more obsessed with both watching and appearing on television. More than just an essay about Stewart, Green's excellent 41-minute documentary is also a condemning examination of the obsession with television and immediate fame. Stewart recollects how he is part of the first generation raised by television and, in his later years, how he always sought out shows that featured "reality." With these instant celebrity phenomena currently on the rise (shows like SURVIVOR and AVERAGE JOE come to mind), THE RAINBOW MAN/JOHN 3:16 is an captivating look into the mind of one of the fanatical fame seekers and may also be a harbinger of things to come.

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