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Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression (2011)

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A new breed of crime-fighter now stalks the urban landscape: the anti-graffiti vigilante. These dedicated blight warriors stop at nothing to rid their neighborhoods and cities of street art... See full summary »

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Title: Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression (2011)

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A new breed of crime-fighter now stalks the urban landscape: the anti-graffiti vigilante. These dedicated blight warriors stop at nothing to rid their neighborhoods and cities of street art, stickers, tags, and posters. Yet several of these vigilantes have become the very menace they set out to eliminate. In their relentless attempt to stamp out graffiti, they've turned to illegally and destructively painting other people's property. VIGILANTE VIGILANTE is the story of two filmmakers who set out to expose these mysterious characters and discover a battle of expression that stretches from the streets to academia. Written by Max Good

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The Battle for Expression

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15 October 2011 (USA)  »

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Interesting watch, albeit an incoherent one.
9 February 2013 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This was an interesting watch, albeit an incoherent one. The pro/anti- graffiti debate is fascinating, but only if one goes deep into the question of opposing rights of different-minded people. Here, much time is spent on talking heads overstating the obvious: "some graffiti is pretty", "tagging requires skill", "wall-to-wall advertisement is more damaging to the city landscape than graffiti, etc." Most of the talking heads stuff is of that nature. Thankfully, a lot of it is illustrated with thoughtful animation.

More interesting is the portrait of the buffers ("remover of graffiti") themselves and their motivations. Their zealous desire to rid the city of graffiti turns them into bigger graffiters themselves, perhaps the most active of them all. The irony of the situation is not lost on the filmmakers, but somehow does not alter their discourse on graffiti.

But if buffers are taggers, and tagging is art, then why come down so hard on the buffers? Shouldn't the right of someone to spray silver paint over a graffiti be as protected as the right to create graffiti in the first place? Unfortunately, when the documentary encounters such ethical dilemmas, it prefers to avoid the issues and simply portray the buffers as near or complete lunatics with personal problems.


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