‘This Place Rules’ offers a brief but intimate view at extremism

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor-In-Chief

Few have done as much to pioneer the internet-era wave of gonzo journalism than Andrew Callaghan. Best known for creating the web shows “All Gas No Breaks” and “Channel 5” (with the latter being a creator-owned spiritual successor to the former), Callaghan has primarily stuck to Youtube for sharing his content. Now, with the help of HBO and Tim and Eric’s Absolutely Productions, Callaghan brings his road show to the big (small) screen.

This Place Rules is the ideal HBO Max movie, with its relatively short run time of one hour and twenty-two minutes with an easy-to-follow documentary narrative. The film follows the lead-up to the January 6th capitol riots, as well as the rise of extremism in the year 2020.

The filmmakers focus on interviewing regular, average people rather than politicians, a decision that shows how dangerous rhetoric can directly harm people. Rather than focus on the things that Donald Trump says that are bad, the film focuses on how these things have affected the American populace.

The film is less focused on the actual events of January 6th, and more on the events leading up to it. Throughout the film, Callaghan attends numerous Trump and pro-Trump rallies and interviews people there directly. One benefit of Callaghan’s style is that, by not being affiliated with a major network, a lot of people at these rallies are more willing to talk to him.

One of these people is Alex Jones. During the film, Callaghan repeatedly interviews Jones, and visits him on the set of InfoWars. While on set, Jones begins drinking and lifting weights, and Callaghan joins him.

Callaghan has been criticized for this, and for platforming Jones. While being interviewed by NPR during a Q&A screening of the film, the interviewer directly criticized him for the scene of them lifting weights together.

This criticism is ridiculous. By going along with Jones, Callaghan is able to provide the viewer with a rare glimpse at a truly insane human being who has had an immense detrimental effect on the world. His depiction of him in the film shows what a despicable and unhinged person Jones is, and the notion that he should not include him in the film because he is a bad person is silly.

That being said, this movie is not perfect. If you pay attention to politics, and especially if you paid attention to politics in the year 2020, a lot of this film will feel like its retreading things that you witnessed in realtime.

At the same time, therein lies the point of This Place Rules. The movie makes no claims to be the definitive recounting of the lead-up to the Capitol Riots. Its nothing more than one man’s recollection of how he saw the leadup to the event go down. 

In that regard, this movie is fantastic, and is definitely worth the watch, especially if you aren’t as politically savvy as Callaghan.