The Confrontational Empathy of ‘I Shot Andy Warhol’

Obligatory "but I didn't shoot the deputy."
I Shot Andy Warhol

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 Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.