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Citizen Shane (2004)

 -  Documentary  -  2004 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 60 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 1 critic

Adult businesses in Lowndes County, Mississippi (the "Buckle of the Bible Belt") are being unfairly harassed by local law enforcement. Record label owner Shane Ballard, 22, plans to change ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Shane Ballard ...
Himself
Aaron Dunn ...
Himself
Charles Manson ...
Himself (voice)
Warren Dearman ...
Himself
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Storyline

Adult businesses in Lowndes County, Mississippi (the "Buckle of the Bible Belt") are being unfairly harassed by local law enforcement. Record label owner Shane Ballard, 22, plans to change that. He is a Republican candidate for sheriff. This documentary follows Ballard on and off the campaign trail during his controversial bid for public office. Along the way, we learn about his strange music, his even stranger hobbies, and his friendship with Charles Manson. We also discover some unsettling truths about his mother's mysterious death in Lowndes County. Can an obscene, porn-loving political unknown change minds in a small southern town? If anyone can, it's "Citizen Shane". Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Meet Shane Ballard. He's running for sheriff of Lowndes County, Mississippi.

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Release Date:

2004 (USA)  »

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Budget:

$4,000 (estimated)
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Did You Know?

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

No Highway Blues
Written by Ron Tibbett
Performed by The Dawn Barham Band
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User Reviews

I knew the man
14 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Here is a column I wrote about Shane about a year after he rode those grills up to where ever a guy like him goes.

Trying to set the record straight on the fat man (8/22)

Monday, August 22, 2005 1:32 PM CDT

This is a column that I probably shouldn't write. It feels harshly sentimental and very personal, but I read something earlier that kind of made me feel like it was the time to write this.

Yesterday Birney Imes mentioned in his column an e-mail he received three years ago from someone claiming to have heard the ghost of Satchmo (Opinions, Letters, and the Ghost of Satchmo). In his column, Mr. Imes wrote that he heard a man walking around through town singing Louis Armstrong songs and sounding exactly like the dead musician. Birney was delighted to learn that the man singing was no specter but a brilliant local comedian/entertainer named Ken Dorsey. He seemed pleased with himself for uncovering the mystery of this singer's identity, which is funny because if Birney had wanted to know anything about Mr. Dorsey all he would have had to do is ask me. I've been catching the guy's act for over a year now.

It seems like an eternity ago, but back when the Princess was still open we would have a karaoke show every Thursday night, and every Thursday Ken Dorsey would appear out of nowhere and do a perfect Louis Armstrong bit and leave as quickly as he appeared, the sound of thunderous applause storming in his wake (We used to call Ken the Karaoke Bandit).

All the coffee shop regulars loved this guy, but none dug his act more than my friend Shane Ballard.

Most of you folks out there have at least heard of Shane. He was the fat guy who last year ran for sheriff on a pro-pornography platform (a political bid that was captured on film by the late Ron Tibbett, who later turned that film into the documentary "Citizen Shane"), and the guy who subsequently - also last year - killed himself with a couple of charcoal grills.

Folks out there, who didn't know Shane but have heard of him, tend to fall into two kinds of categories: those who show signs of revulsion and fear and those who give him an almost holy status (a reaction that makes me much more uncomfortable than the haters). The fat man, of course, deserves neither of these assessments. Hating or fearing someone just because they are a little different from the norm (OK, OK, hugely different from the norm) is just as dumb as worshiping someone who was so disgusting that his house resembled a landfill more than a domicile (seriously, if Martha Stewart had ever walked into Shane's house, her head would have exploded).

The truth, as usual, is far more mundane.

Whenever people ask me to talk about Shane, or try to get some dirt about the guy from me my response is always the same: "Shane was just this fat slob who had an interesting aesthetic, sometimes it was brilliant, sometimes it was disturbing, but in the end he was really just this guy who became my friend. If he liked you, you were sad to see him passing; if he didn't like you, then you probably weren't too upset to see him go. He was just a guy, an ornery, imperfect guy who enjoyed making sensitive people nervous. And I loved him like a brother."

You may have noticed that within the last hundred words or so, I've called Shane fat three times. The reason for that is not only because he was fat (trust, me the man was Shamu with legs), but because our entire friendship was based upon making fun of one another. Whenever we ran into each other I would make a fat joke and he would either call me a hippie or say I looked like Ellen Degeneres. Then we'd sit around ordering drinks and talking about movies and music.

I remember one night specifically when we were hanging around the coffee shop when, for no reason in particular, Shane sat down at the piano and began playing sitcom themes. Everyone in the bar started singing along to the opening music from "Cheers," "All in the Family" and "The Family Guy." I remember thinking as we were all laughing and singing that trite silliness that Shane was playing with all the flair of a seasoned saloon piano man - that this sort of summed up this enormously fat man.

He was a man who was emphatically himself. If there was one thing I admired about the guy that was it. There was no pretension in Shane, if you didn't like him or he didn't like you, he didn't care, and he could be cruel in the way he let you know that. But if he was your friend, then you couldn't have hoped for a more loyal man to be your buddy, because all Shane wanted out of those he was close to was their presence and nothing more.

So why did he ice himself? Why did a guy like that choose to check himself in early? I don't know and I'm not going to speculate on that here other than to say that the most work he ever did in his life was hauling those grills into his room and also that the choice he made proved that he was, among other things, a damn fool.

But assuming there is an afterlife and somehow Shane conned his way into that place and they read The Commercial Dispatch there, I'd like to tell Mr. Ballard this:

Shane, you were grotesquely obese, and we all miss the hell out of you.

Wade Leonard's column appears in the Monday Dispatch. E-mail him at wadehleonard@yahoo.com.


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