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PVT Chat shows the legacy of Occupy Wall Street movement


Jack interacts with "cam girl" Scarlet in PVT Chat: the only possible relationship in late capitalism.


PVT Chat is an American indie film from 2020, directed by Ben Hozie, a young filmmaker from New York.


As the title itself indicates, it focuses on contemporaneity and behavior in the digital age. PVT is short for private with some ambiguity not only for the sense of privacy but also for property.


The film is a surprising analysis of the alienation and helplessness of the urban middle-class youth in the United States today.


It points out that this situation is the legacy of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street. The movement started as a social protest against capitalism but emptied due to a lack of organization and clear political objectives.


“It didn´t change anything,” says a character on the movement in a striking scene located in an art gallery where a young artist exhibits an installation.


This scene also shows the emptiness of commodified art, which fails to provide adequate answers to the historical period in which the artist works.


This inability to reflect on the reasons for the failure of Occupy Wall Street and to find alternatives is in the attitudes and daily lives of the characters, where lack of perspective and alienation in the consumption of virtual pleasures prevail.


The combination of precarious work, low income, insecurity, and increasing fragmentation of relationships, now mediated by the internet, generates a subjectivity that seeks to escape the hostile environment in the commercialized distractions of digital life.


The plot takes place in New York, in the run-up to Covid-19 (filming took place in 2018), and focuses on the romantic relationship between Jack (Peter Vaak) and Scarlet (Julia Fox).


She is an artist who, to survive, offers online sexual services as a cam girl where she plays a dominatrix to satisfy her clients' desires.


As for Jack, his only source of income is online gambling. It sounds like a metaphor for day-traders on Down Jones, who bet on stocks as a way of living.


Jack is good at getting the dealer to lose now and then, securing some of the rent and costs of his favorite pastime of interacting sexually and virtually with Scarlet.


In one of the scenes, Jack confronts the owner of his small apartment who decides to evict him without warning because of a four-day rent delay. The landlord even hires a house painter who begins his work with Jack still asleep in his bed.


After some adventures, Jack and Scarlet finally meet face to face and establish a relationship outside the virtual universe.


Up to this point, the story evolves with betrayals and blows, which gives Scarlet the characteristic of a femme fatale, Jack an investigator, and the film a kinship with the noir genre.


This reference is symptomatic of our current historical moment if we take into account that this genre, inspired by German expressionism, had its heyday during the dark times of World War II.


However, as it happens nowadays, there is a tone of irony and farce in the absurd situations staged that demand a certain distance from the viewers. The political content emerges precisely in this staging of absurdity as a norm.


This is the only way to understand the happy and at the same time dystopian ending that closes the two characters' adventure.


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