One of the most controversial films of the 1990s, the Belgian Man Bites Dog (C’est arrivé près de chez vous) is an often shocking but undeniably effective satire on our culture’s desensitization to violence and particularly on the culpability of the media. Played absolutely straight, it is one of the blackest comedies you’ll ever see, and it will stay with you -- as long as you understand that this ain’t just a gore flick. Its aspirations are much higher.
But in reality, the mayhem is secondary to the film’s primary message, and that is the depth to which the media are involved in the violence of our society. In the film’s documentarians, you have a vivid satirical symbol of a media presence that has gone beyond mere reporting of information and become participants in that violence. Could you say the same of modern media throughout our culture? One eye-opening segment of Man Bites Dog features yet another killer (a competitor of Ben’s) entering the picture—complete with his own documentary film crew. Another news channel, vying for its own exclusive.