The Troubling Contradiction Of God Bless America

God Bless America - Bobcat Goldthwait's attempt at sharp social satire - sadly ends up being a toothless, left-leaning wet-dream of an experience that revels in the vacuous culture it is simultaneously trying to critique.
Frank (convincingly played by Joel Murray, brother of the beloved Bill Murray) is a white-collar chump, fed up with the empty, hyperbolic nature of American culture. Divorced, fired from his job, recently diagnosed with a terminal illness, Frank has nothing to lose and embarks upon a kill spree targeting those he deems as contributing to the downfall of civilization: reality TV stars, right-wing news anchors, extremist Christians and even those who talk on phones in movie theaters.
The film opens with a few sequences that are genuinely remarkable including one almost transcendent scene where we follow Frank simply flipping channels on his television. Over the course of 3 or 4 minutes we see Frank sample the current state of American culture and in one broad stroke Goldthwait makes his thesis statement clear: We celebrate stupidity, meanness and generally offensive hyperbole, laughing at those who try and fail while we ourselves simply sit on our asses doing nothing. It's a position I suspect many, including myself, can sympathize with so when Frank picks up some guns and starts removing these elements from society we are allowed to almost cathartically enjoy these scenes of mass murder.
As the film progresses though, it becomes more and more problematic as Goldthwait seems unable, or unwilling, to reflexively address the discomforting hypocritical notion at the core of his film. When high-school student Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr) joins him on his odyssey the film loses focus as they embark on a Bonnie & Clyde-style spree that is repetitive and one-note, defiantly refusing to confront the audience as to whether they should be entertained by this spectacle.
God Bless America does ultimately want to entertain, which some may interpret as one of the problems with America that its protagonist seems to be railing against. Sitting in a theater with an audience cheering and whooping at some of these murders, one can't shake the feeling that if Frank was actually present he would probably be disgusted and kill the entire crowd, for trivializing murder and mayhem is surely one of the problems with America that would've infuriated Goldthwait in the first place.
Some may argue that my experience of the film was colored by an over-enthusiastic audience and the film is confrontingly reflexive in its own way but I feel that if Goldthwait intended to have his film turn on the audience in that way then he most definitely failed. At no point in my experience does the film question or critique those who are actively enjoying it. At one point, after they kill a right-wing news anchor, Frank mentions that he actually agreed with some of his victim's politics. When Roxy questions Frank about that he glibly responds that he is in favour of less gun control. This moment is presented as a throwaway joke, and the audience responded with a hearty laugh, but it belies Goldthwait's true motives with God Bless America. He may be angry with the current state of American popular culture but he still wants to make a film that entertains rather than confronts.
Two years ago James Gunn made a film entitled, Super that shared much sentiment with God Bless America (as well as Kick Ass) but Super was brave enough to turn the tables on its own audience in its final act. Revealing its protagonists to be well and truly insane, Super left its crowd decidedly unsettled in a way that God Bless America was unwilling to do. Both Frank and Roxy (but Roxy especially) are clearly psychopaths but their sanity is never questioned and we are allowed to enjoy their viscerally violent rampage as if we ourselves are enjoying the fantasy we have always imagined.
A frustrating superficiality and distinct lack of critical distance renders God Bless America nothing more than a troubling wet-dream and despite the fact that Goldthwait can write hilariously prescient monologues that cynically highlight the vacuous nature of western popular culture he still celebrates violence in such a troubling way that the film ends up being profoundly hypocritical.
God Bless America is a discomforting failure.