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.

5 Responses to “Faking The Funky”

  1. Nick Says:

    Nicely said. I’ve not seen Zach and Miri Make a Porno, but what you say holds true for Be Kind Rewind–the sleek professionalism of the movie works, at every turn, against the the “amateurism” of the movies within the movie. And yet Michel Gondry is such a sentimentalist. The movie is nostalgic, yes, and nostalgia is dangerous. And yet there is a sweetness, too, in Gondry’s yearning for analog. The very failure and messiness of Be Kind is itself a testament to the failure and messiness of the movies within Be Kind.

    Anyway, a provocative post.

    • MP:me Says:

      Sentimental, just the right word. Yes! Yearning for the analog, so right. All from Gondry’s ungrounded vacuum of his own success. Wouldn’t we all have fun if we could buy all the gizmos we could imagine, and have a crew of artists to construct them to look like they cost nothing. If we didn’t have to work at video stores, or coffee shops, and could make charming contraptions all day… In a sentimental haze, neither of these films seem to imagine that structural, political, educational, or pragmatic change needs to come with the charming fun of art-making if real people actually going to be liberated by the playful possibilities camcorders.


  2. Excellent Post — thank you. Will mention it to readers of Watching YouTube (strangelove.com/blog).

    I would love to have an e-mail notice whenever you post anything about YouTube so I can tell my own readers about your thoughts.

    Initailly I thought that your blog does not have an RSS feed link — it does, the template does not show it for readers.

    I was able to sub to you via entering
    https://aljean.wordpress.com/rss in my browser (perhaps this ‘trick’ is well known?).

    BTW, you may be interested in the YouTUbe Bibliography Project at http://youtubebiblio.wordpress.com/

    Best wishes,

    Dr. Strangelove


  3. […] written here about the paranormal phenomenon of corporate media that mocks DIY sensibilities to mark a fondness softened by ironic distance for a lost naive (filmic) purity. […]


  4. […] amatuer aesthetic. The ‘anonymous’ blog Media Praxis (written by an academic) provides an interesting commentary on ‘fakes of YouTube video in the name of a sacharine corporate-sponsored celebration of […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: