Credit: Travis Schneider
by Paul Attard Featured Film Horizon Line

Moby Doc | Rob Gordon Bralver

May 25, 2021

Moby Doc is an absurd vanity project, proving Moby is less a fun meme and more an insufferable dope.

Moby is, by most accounts, something of a complete cultural meme at this point in time, possibly only rivaled by the likes of Fred Durst and Maynard James Keenan. While it’s difficult to believe that a bald, heavily-tatted, bespectacled middle-aged man who’s most noteworthy exploits in recent memory were beefing with Eminem and asserting that he once had a fling with Natalie Portman in a book that sold jack shit — or even claims that the CIA asked him to spread patently false information about supposed Russian collusion with the former President, liberal’s favorite boogeyman — was once an international icon in the late ’90s, both critically and commercially lauded for his genre defying “intellectual” dance music, his momentary success proves that truth is often stranger than fiction. But just why his work became so beloved isn’t the central concern of a new documentary about Richard Melville Hall, cheekily titled Moby Doc as a play on Moby Dick — but rather, for some strange reason, what supposedly is the focus of this wannabe Lynchian psychodrama (David himself even shows up for an interview at one point, which is a real slap in the face to true artistry) chronicles the spiritual and emotional journey that constitutes Moby’s life and the lessons he’s learned, as if anyone remotely gave a fuck. He wants this to serve as something of a cautionary tale, to prove that happiness isn’t found with an inflated income or chart-topping tunes, which is the type of obvious faux-wisdom dudes who’ve taken a lot of acid feel beholden to spread like gospel. In theory, this is pretty funny stuff: you get all this lamenting about how nefarious the trappings of fame are, as the entire enterprise only further proves that Moby, once again, will do literally anything to stay in the spotlight. In practice, it’s excruciating and a waste of everyone’s time.  

Hell, any insights into Moby’s artistic process would have been a nice break from the rampant onslaught of self-serving wankery on display here. The closest account of musicianship we get is hearing him say he thought it would be a cool idea to set the string section from Laura Palmer’s theme to an electronic beat — and indeed, that was pretty neat. But instead of more ostensible gems in that vein, we’re subjected to hilariously pretentious re-enactments of his abusive childhood and surrealist interludes, the type thrown in to present the documentary as being  “unique” rather than boring and egotistical. Most of these serve zero purpose other than exhibiting how “creative” the talents behind the camera are, all trying super hard to be artistic by means of being weird, a notion most over the age of ten would see as deeply silly. While Rob Gordon Bralver is the credited director here — who’s previous work includes, surprise surprise, Moby music videos — it’s fairly obvious that Richard is running the show here. After all, how else could one explain why there’s a whole segment dedicated to how Moby was secret BFF’s with David Bowie, which thematically connects to nothing else presented? How could anyone else let some of these self-serious vegan rants slide, including ludicrous comments about how eating meat will be looked at one day as an evil on the level of slavery? Or allow the absolutely ridiculous choice to end this with Moby having a conversation with death, claiming he’s a “big fan” of his work because he provides an end to human suffering? Moby may not be the most self-aware artist currently working — he proved that when he said he was “disappointed” that he wasn’t gay — but with Moby Doc, he demonstartes that he might be the least knowledgable, fashionable, or even likeable by a country mile.