Your Money or Your Life

1982, 46:37 min, color, sound

Your Money or Your Life is a video essay on street crime, and on the role played by an atmosphere of pervasive (white) urban fear in structuring and renewing racial antagonism and inequality. At the center of the tape is a young, white, middle-class woman caught in an ideological trap in which her genuine fear, whetted and animated by the media, becomes synonymous with racial suspicion and hostility. Her counterpart is a black mugger, who tells a story of unemployment, powerlessness, ambition and cynicism, unmasking an ethos not dissimilar to the ethos of American capitalism. Kipnis employs rap music, dance, narrative, documentary, a TV game show and other popular forms to construct her social analysis.

Camera: Joe Langenfeldt, Chris Sabold. Music: Bruce Gaitsch, Tom Radtke, Steve Rodby, Ross Traut. With: Ernest Perry, Jr., James Hood, Laura Kipnis, Sue Seligman, Mary Kipnis.