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The ugly inspiration behind "America the Beautiful"

Posted at 1:44 PM on June 18, 2008 by Euan Kerr

Director Darryl Roberts says a news story inspired him to make "America the Beautiful," which he describes as being about America's unhealthy obsession with beauty. He says he read about a man convicted of killing a model. Roberts was shocked by the reason the man gave for the homicide. he said the woman was so beautiful he didn't want anyone else to have her.

This launched Roberts on a voyage of exploration. He began by surveying 200 women, asking each one if she thought she was attractive. Only two said yes. Roberts ended up talking to people about the extremes which are now an everyday part of the quest for beauty: it starts with soaps and cosmetics, going through pills to cosmetic surgery and eating disorders.

Roberts lays the blame for the situation at the feet of the beauty industry which he says makes billions out of making people feel bad about themselves.

One of the more striking parts of the film is an interview with four guys Roberts bumped into at Venice Beach. He was startled to hear how quick they were to judge women passing by purely for their looks. Roberts said they were so blunt it made him flinch.

They were equally revealing when questioned in front of a camera, so much so that Roberts decided to use their diatribes in what he calls the Greek chorus role in the film. He says they reveal how damaged men have become through the same mediated brainwashing.

His finished film "America the Beautiful" will screen twice tomorrow night at the Lagoon Theater in Minneapolis as a special event for the Emily Program, which works to help people with eating disorders. The early show has already sold out, but tickets remain for the second screening.

Darryl Roberts says the film will go on general release in the late summer in 50 cities. He's not sure if the Twin Cities are on the list, but after only a couple of hours in town, he says he thinks it would be a very good idea because he likes the look of the place.

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