Briggs, Joe Bob 1959-
BRIGGS, Joe Bob 1959-
PERSONAL: Born John Bloom, January 27, 1959 (some sources site 1953), in Frontage, TX; son of Joseph Asa (a miner) and Thelma (Whisenhunt) Bloom; married Joyce Karnes, September 2, 1978 (divorced, August 7, 1979); married Paula Leigh Bowen, July 3, 1988. Education: Attended Tarleton State College, 1977. Politics: Independent. Religion: Baptist.
CAREER: Television and radio personality, comedian, journalist, and author. Auto mechanic in Hooks, TX, 1974-76; singer in Lawton, OK, 1974-77; Dallas Times Herald, Dallas, TX, critic, 1976-77, columnist, 1981-85; Texas Monthly, Austin, TX, staff writer, 1978-81; syndicated columnist, Creators Syndicate, beginning 1984, then New York Times Syndicate, and currently with United Press International; stand-up comedian
performing an act titled "An Evening with Joe Bob Briggs" (later renamed "Joe Bob Dead in Concert") in cities across the United States, 1985-87. Television host of "Joe Bob's Drive-In Theater," The Movie Channel, 1986-96, and Monster Vision, TNT, 1996-2000; appeared as a commentator for television series The Daily Show, Comedy Central, 1996-98. Syndicated radio show host of Media America, 1988—, and Joe Bob's Drive-In Review, 1989-91. Actor in movies, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part 2, 1986, Great Balls of Fire, 1989, Back to Hollywood Boulevard, 1991, Casino, 1995, Face/Off, 1997, and The Storytellers; actor in videos The Chiller Theatre Expo Video, Vol. 1, 1992, and After Sunset: The Life & Times of the Drive-In Theater, 1995; actor in television miniseries The Stand, 1994, and guest appearance in comedy series Married … with Children; guest on television programs, including The Tonight Show.
MEMBER: Free Press Association (national board member).
AWARDS, HONORS: Named Spot News Reporter of the Year, United Press International, 1976; Robert F. Kennedy Award, 1977, for social reporting; Cable ACE Award nominations, 1989 and 1990; best commentary track award, DVD Central, for commentary added to film I Spit on Your Grave.
(With Jim Atkinson) Evidence of Love, Texas Monthly Press (Austin, TX), 1984.
Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1987.
A Guide to Western Civilization; or, My Story, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.
Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive-In, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1990.
The Cosmic Wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs, Random House (New York, NY), 1990.
Iron Joe Bob, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 1992.
Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies That Changed History, Universe Publishing (New York, NY), 2003.
Also author of scripts for Joe Bob's Drive-In Review, 1989-91, and for programs aired on Showtime and the Fox television network. Author of biweekly newsletter We Are the Weird, Briggs Museum of American Culture, 1985. Syndicated columnist of "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In," 1984-98, 2000—, "Joe Bob's America," 1988-98, and "The Vegas Guy," 2000—; wrote humorous sex advice column for Penthouse, c. 1999. Contributor to periodicals, including Playboy, Washingtonian, Texas Monthly, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Interview, Talk, Maximum Golf, and Door; contributor of theater criticism to National Review. Contributing editor, National Lampoon.
ADAPTATIONS: Evidence of Love was adapted as the television movie A Killing in a Small Town.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist and television/radio personality Joe Bob Briggs is "an acknowledged king of cult movie history," according to a Publishers Weekly writer. After working as a car mechanic and a professional singer for a couple of years, he began his career in journalism at the now-defunct Dallas Times-Herald, where he was hired by the paper's entertainment editor, Ron Smith, to write film criticism. Always a fan of B movies, Briggs began writing the column "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" in the early 1980s, which he later turned into a successful radio show, Joe Bob's Drive-In Review, a 1987 book, and its follow-up, 1990's Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive-In.
Briggs has long felt that many B movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Wild Bunch, and I Spit on Your Grave have been underappreciated by critics, who have snubbed them because of excessive violence (he typically talks and writes about exploitation films) and poor production values. While he admits that many of these movies are flawed, he also insists that some have proved to be groundbreaking films that paved the way for other, more critically accepted films. As he told Gary Crowdus in a Cineaste interview, "A great many of the original ideas in film come from the B-movie world and then percolate up into the A-movie world. The filmmakers who work at the Roger Corman level tend to be the young people in their early twenties, who are innovators. The Great Texas Dynamite Chase is Thelma & Louise, I Spit on Your Grave is The Accused. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre became many serial-killer movies, most notably Silence of the Lambs."
Many of Briggs's thoughts on the importance and enjoyment of B movies are aired in his 2003 book, Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies That Changed History. Here he argues for the merits of such movies as The Curse of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, And God Created Woman, and Blood Feast. For one of the films in the book, the exploitation flick I Spit on Your Grave, Briggs would also provide a commentary track. "Joe Bob makes a passionate defense of the film," noted Crowdus, "and contends with the statements of [Gene] Siskel and [Roger] Ebert, as well as some feminist critics, on a virtual scene-by-scene basis. He makes a convincing case for their misreadings of the film and their utterly wrongheaded condemnations of it." The movie, which is about a woman who is repeatedly raped by several men, exacts revenge on them in several gratuitously bloody scenes, and then escapes without being caught by law enforcement, was criticized by many people for encouraging the exploitation of women. Briggs points out, however, that the movie's producer and director, Meir Zarchi, actually intended to make a film against such exploitation, which is why the female character is victorious in the end. The gruesomeness of the film, however, has been blamed for dooming Zarchi's career and the careers of the actors in it.
Reviewers of Profoundly Disturbing found much to admire and enjoy about Briggs's insights into why such previously shunned B movies are deserving of another chance. In what the Publishers Weekly contributor called "a wryly amusing, informative study" in which the author "writes with insight and affection" about his subject, Profoundly Disturbing does not go so far as to assert that these films make great cinema, but the author admonishes film snobs for not accepting them for what they are. Briggs "both subverts and celebrates these films," noted Andrew Stuttaford in National Review, "but who cares? It's better to lighten up, grab a beer, and just see Joe Bob as someone who delights in rummaging through cinema's trash heap and telling us what he's found. He does this brilliantly … with a touch of Cahiers du Cinema that is all his own."
In addition to his books and newspaper columns, Briggs has also hosted radio and television shows about his favorite movies and has acted in some grizzly flicks himself, including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Part 2 and Stephen King's The Stand. Always the comic, he has written the satires A Guide to Western Civilization; or, My Story, The Cosmic Wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs, and Iron Joe Bob, the last of which parodies the men's movement; and he once had his own stand-up comedy act that toured for two years. More recently, after putting his movie columns on a two-year hiatus, he returned to writing his syndicated "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In," as well as a new column, "The Vegas Guy," which is about his travels to various casinos. Today, Briggs continues to find small parts in movies and to contribute articles on gambling, humor, and pop culture to newspapers and national magazines.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Cineaste, summer, 2003, Gary Crowdus, "Cult Films, Commentary Tracks and Censorious Critics: An Interview with John Bloom," p. 32.
National Review, September 1, 2003, Andrew Stuttaford, "Horror Show."
Publishers Weekly, March 3, 2003, review of Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies That Changed History, p. 65.
Reason, April, 2003, Sara Rimensnyder, "Disturbed Minds," p. 17.
U.S. News & World Report, October 1, 1990, Ann E. Andrews, "X and Mom," p. 17.
The Joe Bob Report, http://www.joebobbriggs.com/ (October 3, 2003).*