GAVIN McINNES IN A MILLION IN THE MORNING
In the first week of October 2008, a plexiglass box was placed in the middle of Times Square for the Netflix Popcorn Bowl, an eight-person competition to break the World Record for "movie watching" (previously held by India's Ashish Sharma, who watched for 120 hours and 23 minutes) by sitting through 57 movies in the course of 123 hours. Halfway down the block somewhere was a jaw-grinding, mumbling, awake-for-five-days Gavin McInnes, Vice co-founder, corporate ship-jumper, and now captain of the fashion critiques-and-bad TV web site Street Carnage.
With a naiveté that speaks to the novelty of its corporate outreach, Netflix asked the mischievous McInnes and artist/filmmaker Jason Goldwatch, a co-founder of record label and production studio Decon, to document the competition, with McInnes acting as emcee. The short of it is that McInnes and crew decided to stay up as long as the contestants, and what resulted is a documentation of depravity set against the violent neon backdrop of Times Square. McInnes, clad in full tux and mustache, with an increasingly more extreme ventriloquist doll's slouch, invites the viewer to wax their own interior monologues about the American Dream, dragging the experience out of sheer spectacle and into something one might happily confuse with art. Thus, A Million in the Morning, an hour-long documentary now available on DVD.
Over the course of the film, McInnes is a mixture Jonny Knoxville and Chris Burden or Paul McCarthy, not purely one or the other but, instead, multi-generational blender pulp. And though he definitely has the recklessness of Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle, McInnes is, like the aforementioned performance artists, more mirror than dancing clown; or, rather, in being the latter, he becomes the former. The documentary ultimately feels like a new chapter of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas via Joseph Conrad, with McInnes driving off in a limo talking about abortions while, on 42nd Street, a Russian and a Sri Lankan hold a trophy up in the air chanting "USA, USA, USA," billboards flashing all around them. Naturally, Netflix rejected the footage, as if that would stop Decon from releasing it themselves.
ELLIOTT DAVID: To you, is Times Square a special site? Is it a metaphor for an America Dream, or a Hollywood interpretation of it?
GAVIN McINNES: I don't think anyone sees Times Square as any kind of metaphor for anywhere else on Earth. It's just a place where tourists come to see bright lights and musicals. What I find amusing about the place is how sketched out the tourists are when they walk around. They seem scared. I kept screaming at them, "This is your hood. Without you, this place is a ghost town. Own it. It's yours."
DAVID: How did you stay up? Really just coffee and confidence? I'm sure the violent neon of Times Square helped.
McINNES: There was mountains of blow and amphetamines, but that stuff isn't magic. During the filming, we called that the "Weekend at Bernie's solution" because it kept you up but you were just kind of dangling there like a puppet. I think the German [contestant] was using some kind of European Adderall, but I can tell you without a doubt, Suresh, who made it to the end, didn't employ any tricks. He just focused real hard and pulled it off. He "mastered the pain," as he put it. What a freak!
DAVID: How much of the experience do you remember? How much of that has been rewritten by seeing the footage?
McINNES: I was so delirious and basically "sick" by the end. I don't really remember the bunny head being thrown at me, but whenever I see the actual head lying around at [the Decon offices], I feel a Pavolvian sense of rage. If you want to know what it's like to stay awake for five days do acid and drink a bottle of absinthe. Which is to say, don't.
DAVID: Do you stand by the "mathematical explanation of the fact that we don't exist" you came up with during the film?
McINNES: I was forced to take mathematics in university, and one of the few things I remember about it is the mathematical community considers "infinitely small" to be exactly the same as zero. Sleep deprivation drove me to the realization that we are infinitely small; hence, we don't exist. However, we obviously do exist, so it's time nerds reevaluated that whole "infinitely small" rule. I think my body realized it was dying so it send me a surge of energy to get smart and go out and hunt small game or whatever.