Fred Durst has made a short film called The Truth. He directs and stars, as Evan Jealous, a low-rent showman preacher who karate kicks and shrieks and eventually, through the use of blunt force, shows his disciples the light. It’s done mockumentary style, with the cameras first introducing us to Evan’s flock du jour, curious and skeptical before they enter his domain, then his army of ushers, all decked out in matching turtlenecks and blazers and white patent leather shoes, all wearily, and confusedly, praising the great man. Finally, we get Jealous himself, throwing himself around in a cheap suit and aggressively committing himself to saying as much of nothing as possible. It’s an agreeable, if thin concept, and it’s properly executed, which shouldn’t be surprising considering Durst has directed an Ice Cube–starring family sports movie for an actual studio.
Some of the actors are better than others at the slack-jawed deadpan necessary for this kind of thing; sometimes, the unintended amateurism peeks through. Still, I was enjoying it up until the last few minutes, when Durst, grasping around for what this was all building to, seems to say, “Oh I don’t know, let’s just start hitting people in the face with chairs.” That, it turns out, is Evan Jealousy’s truth-delivery system: a WWE-style folded-chair smack across the face. We see three or four of these, each a bit more ugly and violent than the next; men and women go spinning to the ground, then emerge with matted blood and grins. It’s not fun. The joke here has been obvious from the get-go, but now we watch it actually being physically beaten into people’s heads.
In a corresponding interview with Noisey (which premiered the short), Durst gets reflective about his relationship to culture these days, even saying, “The subtleties of Limp Bizkit; the satire. It’s almost like it got overlooked. We put it in almost everything. We just didn’t make it that obvious. It took its own life.” The longer removed we are from the days of Bizkit ubiquity, the easier it’ll be for Durst to speak of his band that way, and the more little art projects he makes, the more it bolsters that particular take: Look at Fred Durst making semi-interesting shorts. Clearly we were wrong about him the whole time. But it’s not true: For whatever subversiveness Durst intended on broadcasting at first, it became irrelevant pretty quickly once Limp Bizkit, for a brief while there, became the biggest band in America. The Beastie Boys have always said the same thing about their Licensed To Ill era and the misogyny that went with it: It was a joke that got completely out of hand. And, then, the whole rest of their creative lives came about, one big shining testament to that fact. I suppose I do believe Durst when he says he never intended to make unconsidered anthems for meanness and aggression. But then, it appears, the money got to be too much to stop. Durst was in the hot dog–flavored water business, and business was good.
Later, in the same interview, Durst says, “When I was a kid, I was such a daydreamer. Everything I thought was real. I knew that I wanted to make movies I never said, ‘I’m gonna make a film that’s gonna come out in theaters.’ I just said, ‘I’m gonna make a movie. I gotta do it.'” Along with the Cube flick, he’s also directed The Education of Charlie Banks, starring Mr. Jesse Eisenberg, and now this. If there’s anything we should be commending Fred Durst on, really, it’s not the unappreciated nuances of his back catalogue. It’s that he’s still out here, trying to live his dreams.