Canadian/American media personality Tom Green’s evolution from contrarian agitator to transformative model is a great descriptor of recent psychic and social change in the (post)modern West. Green recently hosted a show on web-O-vision (the internet) from his own living room in Los Angeles, completely free of corporate funding or censorship, episodes of which are available for viewing at Tom’s site and on YouTube. He pioneered the very first live internet talk show only a few years ago, and makes full use of the inter-connectivity currently available near-universally, enabling real-time conversation with viewers via Skype. His evolution from hijacker of public P.A.s to broadcaster from his own living room indicates a lifelong inclination toward life as performative art of one kind or another. In this role, it was Green who broke the news of the U.S. Navy Seals’ execution of Osama Bin Laden. He got there first, don’t ask me how.
Green has seemingly utterly transcended his formerly somewhat vengeful character and reconfigured as a pioneer of the movement against or beyond domination by a cluster of unseen programmers. I’ve always been a fan of humor’s propensity to alter the emotional balance of any situation, and when I first became aware of Green as a teen in the 1990s, via his MTV show, I didn’t like the angle of his jokes, most of which seemed based in fun at others’ expense. Green’s pranks evolved over the years, from apparently unprovoked attacks on his parents, to deliberate spoofs of the illusory construct of authority via commandeering the pagers at shopping malls, or asking passersby “Where are you going?” until receiving a reaction which seemed well worth broadcasting. I have always admired his bravery in reaching out to strangers in this society so closed off from itself. Two important steps in Green’s transformation were 1) his ill-fated, short-lived love affair and marriage with American sweetheart Drew Barrymore (who played the female lead in the film of Chuck Barris’ memoir Confessions of a Dangerous Mind shortly after their divorce), through which connection he was exposed to big-ticket Hollywood heartlessness via a role in Charlie’s Angels and movies of his own like Freddy Got Fingered and Road Trip, and 2) his unexpected contraction of testicular cancer right after they married, through which he was inspired to confront his own mortality and revise his attitude on reality entire, despite “parlaying it into a TV special” in the words of Tom Green Live guest Norm MacDonald. These events are chronicled in his autobiography, Hollywood Causes Cancer, written with Allen Rucker, available for order online and from your nearest local new bookseller, as well as his roots as a prankster on Canadian public access TV. He is apparently no longer hosting that show – at any rate, there don’t seem to be any recent vids from it on YouTube, and devoting a greater share of effort than before to maintainance and improvement of his YouTube channel.