Faking The Funky
February 12, 2009
I’ve wanted to write on Be Kind Rewind for awhile (its retro-futurist dreamings of a soft-n-sweet hand-made people’s media revolution), and I did get to do so a little bit in the talk I’m completing on fake documentaries on YouTube, but merely as an aside. But then, I happened to watch Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and it has inspired me to pen a few remarks on my fascination and revulsion for this almost trend in recent Hollywood/”indie” fare: fakes of YouTube video in the name of a sacharine corporate-sponsored celebration of user-generated video.
Both films condescendingly imagine people-made video using an assanine language of over-the-top bad form (hyperbolically corny costumes, insanely clunky sets, bumpy frames, goofy gaffes), referring I suppose to a “YouTube aesthetic” that looks nothing like this, given that YouTubers do their best to make things look like corporate media. Then, they both get narrative mileage from a similarly shmaltzy vision of regular people liberated from their work-a-day realities through the communal labor of making video, or rather bad camcorder copies of already bad movies (let’s put on a show!) While I’m the first to share this revolutionary vision—raise sheep in the morning, make video in the afternoon—this Hollywood version sticks a bit in the craw, given that it’s nostalgically expressed within films that otherwise look like and are made within corporate media. What we get is an industry repeat (albeit from two of the industry’s artier voices) of YouTube’s very corporate vision of “democratic” media: one that softly sings of a flattened playing field that relies on what real people do and like and yet merely reifies the differences between good and bad, real and fake movies.