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Four More Years


1972 01:00:00 United StatesEnglishB&WMono1/2" open reel video


TVTV's inside view of the 1972 Republican National Convention made broadcast history. While network cameras focused on the orchestrated renomination of Richard Nixon, TVTV's rag-tag army of guerrilla television activists turned their cameras on to the cocktail parties, anti-war demonstrations, hype and hoopla that accompanied the show.

"The countercultural tide of the 1960s and 70s generated more than political protests, a growing drug culture, advancing feminism, and Bob Dylan — it also spurred an intense (though regrettably short-lived) burst of activist media makers, working in both film (the various Newsreel collectives) and newly-available portable video. One of these guerilla-style video collectives was TVTV (Top Value Television), founded in 1972 in San Francisco. With the goal of producing a more unfiltered look at the world than network television provided, TVTV adopted something like a cinema verité-style approach to their reportage. In Four More Years, their first production, they visit the 1972 Republican presidential convention in Miami. With very little editorializing, they present a surprisingly even-handed look at the delegates, youth volunteers, attending and participating politicians, and network newscasters (including Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite). The results are totally compelling: this is a raw, authentic-feeling, and free flowing look at an event that, by its very nature, is packaged and artificial. TVTV interviews everyone from youth volunteers making signs to Henry Kissinger. They allow the inherent artificiality of political showmanship and the words of their subjects—sometimes genuinely sympathetic, sometimes cluelessly self-damning — to carry things along."
— Patrick Friel, Chicago Cine-List, 10/18/12

This title is also available on Surveying the First Decade: Volume 2.


TVTV (Top Value Television) was formed in 1972 by Michael Shamberg, Megan Williams, Tom Weinberg, and Allen Rucker, and enlisted the support of media collectives including Raindance, Ant Farm, and the Videofreex to provide alternative coverage of the 1972 Presidential nominating conventions. The Democratic tape, The World's Largest TV Studio (1972), and its Republican companion piece, Four More Years (1972) were among the first video documentaries to be broadcast. The convention tapes provided candid interviews with delegates and protestors alike, while exposing the foibles of the media, showing viewers "the underbelly of broadcast TV." 

Influenced by New Journalism and the versatility and novelty of portable video equipment, TVTV created a critically acclaimed, graphically inventive, intimate style of documentary satire. TVTV's success led to a contract with the TV Lab at WNET to produce documentaries on cult religion (The Lord of the Universe, 1974), commercials (Adland, 1974), Washington politics (a four-part series, Gerald Ford's America, 1975) and sports (Super Bowl, 1976), among other topics. Frustrated by public television's lack of commitment to independent documentary production, the group lost its shared purpose, moving from cable to public to network TV, finally producing an unsuccessful comedy pilot, The TVTV Show, for NBC in 1978. TVTV disbanded in 1979.