Inconsequential Doggereal

1981, 15:13 min, color, sound

Initially created as an editing exercise for his students at UCSD, Jenkins’ Inconsequential Doggereal mixes poetic narrative fragments of self-shot footage with moments ripped from the unending flow of TV news, advertising, and entertainment. The images and sounds of mainstream television are jammed, freeze-framed, looped, overlaid and rewound—clips of science documentaries, movies broadcast on TV, nightly news commentary on the minimum wage, and a 60 Minutes style interview with the actor Peter Sellers are all jumbled together. Jenkins interjects several original threads, which show pickup football games gone wrong, a young white couple doing chores and hanging out at home, and Jenkins himself laying on a green suburban yard as a lawnmower moves perilously close to his body.

Commenting on the title, Jenkins noted: “One Sunday morning, I was reading the calendar section in the L.A. Times. The Superman film was just about to open, and they had an interview with Marlon Brando. They asked him, ‘What’s it like to play the Superman?’ He goes, ‘Well, I really like those doggerel moments.’ I said, ‘Doggerel moments? What is he talking about?’ So I looked up the word, and it means ‘irregular measure.’ So I figured he was talking about the time when maybe they’re not using dialogue, or the in-between time when they’re moving within the narrative and there’s nothing being said, or maybe there are gestures you can’t understand. And I thought, ‘That’s what it’s like to be a black person in society. Sometimes things are irregular, and you can’t figure out what’s happening.’”