Born out of left-wing, Reagan-era frustration and the availability of public-access TV, the grass-roots media collective Paper Tiger has soldiered on for more than 25 years of activism aimed at achieving social justice. The self-produced documentary "Paper Tiger Reads Paper Television" (being shown Monday at REDCAT) encapsulates a quarter-century of media anarchy into an informative, fast-paced overview of the New York-based underground network.
The title riffs on early Paper Tiger productions in which someone would literally take apart a mainstream publication, analyzing its contents and exposing the alleged underlying significance. Meshing punk-rock enthusiasm and deconstructionist fervor with electronic folk art aesthetics, Paper Tiger decried the evils of media consolidation and multinational corporations long before it was in vogue.
The documentary includes priceless clips of early '80s programming, plus interviews with members.
Screening with the film is a Paper Tiger chestnut from 1988, "Socks Ads: Judith Williamson Consumes Passionately in Southern California," shot at a Target department store in Valencia. Williamson combines a cheeky academic rap with Esther Williams-like musical elements to deliver seemingly genuine indignation over product redundancy.