FakeTube: Join the Search!

December 3, 2008

I am MP:me. I use my laptop’s tiny camera, imovie, and YouTube to make and network small, “bad” videos as part of my femi-digi-praxis. In this attempt, I’m out seeking productive fake docs on YouTube. Care to help me?

In my book, F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth’s Undoing (which I edited with Jesse Lerner) I define the fake documentary as “fiction films that make use of (copy, mock, mimic, gimmick) documentary style and therefore acquire its associated content (the moral and social) and associated feelings (belief, trust, authenticity) to create a documentary experience defined by their antithesis, self-conscious distance.”  Perhaps you’ve noticed, but such things litter, no really define, video on YouTube. Once the fake to a certainly dicey but notable real, on YouTube fake docs are the real to a decidedly disappeared belief, trust and authenticity. YouTube is dominated by mimicky gimmicks, glib repetitions, fake takes on the already untrue. So many media morsels gleefully winking at their near mirror image; so many video bloggers tipping their hats to their multiple fabricated selves. That’s the funny and fake vernacular of YouTube: this sincere attempt at academic discourse and communication withstanding. Hey: you try to be earnest, genuine, yourself, in this sea of irony. Believe me, no one will trust its really you…

Now, the productive fake doc is another story. In the book we included 15 chapters on the sub-genre. But look as I may, I can’t find ‘em on YouTube. I defined productive fake docs “as those that self-consciously and directly engage with history, identity and truth in a political and formal project that links and unlinks power to the act of recording the visible world and to the documentary record produced.” This is where you come in.

I’ve been invited to give some talks in early 2009 about shifting media boundaries—fake/real, documentary/art—and I know that this must be happening on YouTube. Everything does. But why go it alone–solo pundit braving it in the video wilds–when what I study is famously based upon the new structures of collective intelligence, the wisdom of crowds, and the out-sourcing of labor in the name of fun.

Will you send me your favorite productive fake doc and participate in the play (here, on YouTube or Facebook)? Share with me a link and make sure to add a comment if you want to convince me. And I’ll need it by early January to make the cut. If I like what I see and also what you say, I’ll include you in my glamorous upcoming talks in Iowa or at CAA. I promise.

Oh. Also: Could you pass this on? Network it? Can I trust you? Use you? I don’t know where this project will end. But you can certainly follow me on-line as I attempt my productive fake quest through our contemporary video mess.


11 Responses to “FakeTube: Join the Search!”

  1. chris renaud Says:

    We screened a pretty remarkable fake doc/fiction performance piece at Iowa City Documentary Festival two years ago called “five more minutes” by filmmakers Dena DeCola and Karin E. Wandner.

    In it two women relive mother and daughter roles in a game of dress-up, until memory and/or impending change burst through.

    Here’s their website:

    I can’t recommend it enough.

  2. MP:me Says:

    Chris: Is there a way to see it? Since it is not on YouTube, why not? I beleive that a good deal of “productive” work doesn’t seem to wan’t to reside there.

  3. Josh Says:

    Take a look at this: It’s level of “fakeness” is about a 6/10.


  4. MP:me Says:


    I’d love to hear more from you about the (your?) doc. Why do you say it is fake? How? Is it on YouTube? Why not. I love this piece btw. Thanks for suggesting it!

  5. Josh Says:

    I would say it’s fake because I kind of went into it with a persona on. The idea behind the video was that my friends always accused me of having an asian fetish, so I wanted to make a documentary kind of presupposing that it was true, although I still contend it was not. I did make it as a piece of nonfiction, but the me that was making the nonfictional piece wasn’t really “me”. I’m not sure I’m articulating it very well.

  6. MP:me Says:

    Josh: You’re articulating it well. You join a long list of fake documentarians who play (and play with) a version of themselves. Have you put this on YouTube, and if not, why not?

  7. […] recently put out a call requesting help in her search for what she calls “productive fake docs” on YouTube. […]

  8. I read your blog for a long time and must tell that your posts are always valuable to readers.

  9. Your blog is very interresting for me, i will come back here..

  10. Beau Boker Says:

    Nice subject area that you have chosen.

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