Features and Columns · Movies

The Confrontational Empathy of ‘I Shot Andy Warhol’

Obligatory “but I didn’t shoot the deputy.”
I Shot Andy Warhol
By  · Published on June 7th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how Mary Harron’s movie I Shot Andy Warhol humanizes the controversial.

It’s probably not that controversial to say that American Psycho is Canadian director Mary Harron‘s best-known contribution to pop culture. And yet, even on the best days, it doesn’t feel particularly fair to compare the rest of her filmography to her sophomore feature, which tapped into something zeitgeist-y in a way that can’t — I hope — be planned. Then again, it doesn’t help that her debut has been trapped indefinitely in distribution limbo, limiting its viewership through no fault of its own.

Released in 1996, I Shot Andy Warhol profiles the infamous feminist and would-be-assassin Valerie Solanas (Lili Taylor). A radical feminist whose biggest contribution to history would have been the SCUM Manifesto if she hadn’t shot pop artist Andy Warhol in 1968. To say Solanas is a complex figure would be putting it lightly.

I Shot Andy Warhol unravels the circumstances that helped Solanas pull the trigger: from her childhood to her experiences with homelessness, sex work, and being an out lesbian in the 1950s. The film is an ambitiously empathetic viewing experience; keen to push viewers to witness the human error and hurt at the heart of tabloid-courting scandal and controversy.

The video essay below takes time to acknowledge the unfair hand I Shot Andy Warhol was dealt in terms of any legitimate long-term survival. Long out of circulation and once considered a missing film, Harron’s breakout debut persists for a reason (it is very good!). Incendiary and soft, biting and tender, I Shot Andy Warhol deserves far more eyes on it, and here’s why:

Before you hit play, consider this your formal warning that the following contains spoilers. This might seem like a goofy thing to flag considering this film’s title and the fact that it’s based on a real person. But trust me: seek this one out — if you can — before hitting play.

Watch “I Shot Andy Warhol – Humanising The Controversial”

Who made this?

This video essay on how Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol humanizes the controversial is by You Have Been Watching Films. United Kingdom-based writer Oliver Bagshaw produces the channel, creating video essays on an assortment of movies, from cult to classic strains of cinema history. You can subscribe to their YouTube channel here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.