IN 1997, Davis was the star of a one-person reality TV show that was being shot to air on MTV called THE HERMIT.
He was 27 years old, and imagined himself poised for greatness. The concept of the show was simple and revolutionary: Davis was to be locked in a studio apartment with hidden cameras all over the place. But the show never aired.
Those outside of the cloistered world of MTV who have seen the early episodes have remarked on the shows enormous potential. The artist Francesco Clemente purchased all of the original footage from MTV with the legal caveat that they could not be shown publicly until the year 2012. Clemente will premiere the 1997 Fleetwood footage at world premier event entitled I STAY IN SO YOU CAN GO OUT at a specially constructed drive in movie theatre festival on the site of The Burning Man Project in Black Rock, Nevada on December 12, 2012.
Clemente described his passion for bringing THE HERMIT to a wider audience: “boredom is the origin of any good idea. In this respect, THE HERMIT proves to be both the source and the execution of a brilliant artistic idea.” While being interviewed on the Charlie Rose program in 2000, Clemente, confounded Rose as he waxed poetic about the unknown artist ‘Davis Fleetwood’.” When Charlie Rose suggested it odd that a renowned surrealist and expressionist painter would labor for years on the unedited video footage from a never before seen MTV reality show, Clemente replied:
“Fleetwood will be known for “his ransacking of every literature. For the precision with which he knows the homely and workday details of culture as well as the big abstraction, the ease with which he moves about in history from neolithic times to the report of the latest congressional committee. There is his wish to be, and the acceptance that it will never com to pass, Ian Svenonius circa 1991. And there only the slightest of winks as he simultaneously slings shit at the world, suffers your silly slings and arrows, and then, true to his Irish background- genetically predisposed to pugilism, he punches you in the gut with the truth.”
Apparently, the production team behind the original “Hermit” disagreed. The show, to them, was simply boring. During production of the show, the producers hired actors to pretend that they were his friends, old lovers, whatever. But things took a deadly turn on the set.
According to Clemente, the actors were trained in rare and secretive long form improvisational technique called the “THE PABLO”. Unlike “THE HAROLD” which is utilized by such seminal improvisational groups like The Upright Citizens Brigade, “THE PABLO” technique has been utilized by the CIA for decades to train operatives to stay under cover and in character for months, even years, at a time. Robert Gates, CIA director from 1991-1993, acknowledged the use of the “Pablo” technique in the seminal 2006 PBS Frontline Documentary “THE LIE THAT TELLS THE TRUTH. ” Actors who have undergone Pablo training describe it as: “Method acting, cubed. On acid.”
Gates acknowledged that he had authorized an ambitious top secret program that would “utilize the Pablo technique to infiltrate major media outlets and alter their programing” the CIA goal being, according to Gates nothing short of “the complete management of the thoughts and impressions of all media consumers world wide.”
Davis Fleetwood, sensing his role in the “pablovian” experiment, looked straight into camera 1, pointed a gun at his head, uttered the phrase “this is not a prop” and pulled the trigger. An apparent suicide, THE HERMIT never aired. Davis Fleetwood was 27 years old.
However, in 2007, from a basement in an unknown location, Davis Fleetwood re-emerged. Or, to put it another way, went back underground. Claiming that his suicide was staged with the aid of CIA agent and “Pablovian” actor that remains unnamed, Davis lived a life under an assumed identity. Got married. Had children. Taught high school. Passed as a regular guy. He began posting his videos, which tended to be political rants, on the video sharing site YouTube. Davis became, in the words of You Tube News and Politics chief Steve Grove, one of the most prominent voices in YouTube politics. And his video A Challenge to Students, went viral with over 4.5 million views.
Before long Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich hired Fleetwood as a writer, web personality, and media consultant for his 2008 campaign. Fleetwood was out of the basement. After the Kucinich campaign shut down, Fleetwood attempted take his political action entertainment to the next level and set out on a campaign to win the votes of 3 Super-delegates at the Democratic National Convention.
Even though the video gained well over 150,000 views on You-Tube, his audience- mostly liberals who had supported Kucinich, were now lining up to drink the Obama cool aid and grew tired of Fleetwood’s antics. THE HERMIT was accused of “jumping the shark.”
On May 8, 2008, season one of THE HERMIT shut down.
On July 28, 2008, season two of THE HERMIT launched and ended on November 5, 2008 (election night), with Davis Fleetwood spending the evening in Washington D.C. with Ralph Nader.
On December 10, 2008 Davis turned his YouTube channel over to a rotating lineup of collaborators including The Punk Patriot, The Logical Party, Citizen Justice, Chanting Down Babylon, Drunken Politics, I’m Just a Girl, Sean Bedlam and others. The three month project was a ratings disaster. His audience, hungry for the brand of videos they had grown accustomed to from THE HERMIT series, went ballistic and accused Davis of “Jumping the shark” yet again.
On June 2, 2009 THE HERMIT 3.0 launched in a new, expanded, weekly format.
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