Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (Matthew Bate, 2011) 3/4
Eddie Lee and Mitchell D. moved to San Francisco in the late 1980’s. While living in an apartment that looked like a Pepto Bismol bottle, they had neighbors that would yell and shout at each other at all hours of the day. The two men that lived in the apartment were Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman. Eddie and Mitchell attempted to deal with the noise but were unsuccessful in trying to have the two men quiet down. Dealing with it in a way that any person in their early 20s would, they decided to begin recording the arguments. Circulating the tapes within their close friend circle, the tapes began spreading and eventually became a worldwide underground phenomenon.
This documentary is simply two men explaining their story of the “Shut Up Little Man” tapes. Although a great amount of the footage is of the guys sitting in front of the camera talking, the documentary is really interesting. Mixed in with the interviews is reenactment footage and attempts to talk to other people involved with Peter and Raymond. The samples of the tapes mixed with the reenactment footage are hilarious and seem too good to be real. The documentary also shows the struggles that Eddie and Mitchell had to deal with when the tapes became famous. When people starting getting a hold of the tapes they wanted to exploit it and make money off of it. Of course the most obvious way to do that is by making it a movie or a play. The play did end up happening and the film does its best to explain what happened to the production of a movie.
One part of the film that annoyed me was when they would be explaining a situation that happened and they would censor someone’s name. They would basically bleep it out and then when they had sometime written on the screen, over the person’s name it would say “censored”. I know that documentarians have to do their best to tell a story and not upset people who didn’t agree to do the film but things like that just really annoy me. Maybe I need to see more documentaries. What I really enjoyed was the way the film addressed people’s need to know what other people are doing and how they love to exploit others. They brought up how YouTube has brought that curiosity to the mainstream. People love to see other people go crazy and yell. I think that it makes the viewers feel more normal and better about themselves because they can say, “oh, I’m not as crazy as that person”. Shut Up Little Man is an interesting documentary that attempts to show the thin line between exploitation and art.