Air Guitar Nation is a mercifully short documentary about a bunch of creativity-deprived neo-hippies who turn nothing -- strumming imaginary axes -- into an 'art form', then treat it as though it's a matter of life or death, and finally talk without irony about how they've made made a contribution to world peace with their art. I'm sure I heard the phrase "If you're strumming an air guitar, you can't pick up a gun," at one point. The movie gives us 'air guitar' versions of everything you'd find in the real rock world -- groupies, road fatigue, and even air-guitar Legs McNeils who appear in talking-head segments and speak with stone-seriousness about the world of air strumming and the people who take up the cause. One of them, a competitor in air guitar championships -- I'd peg him at about 36 years old -- triumphantly tells the cameraman "I raised about $460 through the kindness of friends and one stranger" for a plane ticket to the air guitar world finals in Finland. It was at that point that I wrote in my notebook: "they should reinstate the draft."
The main focus of director Alexandra Lipsitz is on a competitive air guitarist who goes by the handle 'C-Diddy,' which is about as clever as he is. Given name David Jung, he describes himself as an 'actor-comedian' and crafts a silly stage presence that involves a lot of tongue-lashing and wild gyrations. His act is a hit -- as much as an air guitar act can be a hit -- and Jung is soon competing in regionals, nationals, and finally the international championship, all of which seem like they are held in very, very small venues. C-Diddy is rivals with Bjorn Turoque -- the guy with the plane ticket -- and eventually they will face down each other in Finland to see who is the master of strumming an imaginary guitar pick in time to Boston and KISS songs. Official air guitar scoring is done Olympic-style, with judges issuing points up to a perfect 6.0. "I never give sixes, but I gave a six to Bjorn Turoque," one judge says after a competition, while staring soberly at the cameraman.