Blognificent (Sweded!)

October 22, 2008

I wanted to write something cynical.  That’s normally what I do, and there’s a lot on YouTube to encourage pessimism.  I wanted to talk about how there’s very little intellectually stimulating material floating around the ‘Tube.  I wanted to talk about the endless repetition; the thousands of half-ass parodies of the funny, but instantly forgettable Numa Numa and Star Wars Kid (and regardless of what Wesch says, I do think that we are mocking those two, not embracing their happiness.)

Then I saw this.

Be Kind, Rewind was not the greatest film on the face of the planet (despite being directed by Michel Gondry and having Mos Def and Jack Black in leading roles), but it had some really brilliant ideas.  The premise is that Jack Black’s magnetized brain erases all of the VHS tapes at the ancient video store where Mos works.  As a quick fix, the two (and eventually their whole community) reshoot classic films like Ghostbusters and Rocky with ultra-low budgets.  They inexplicably brand these remakes as “Sweded” films, and before long they are swarmed with requests for more.  And of course, big bad Hollywood eventually swoops in and shuts them down.

This is the best idea to come out of this movie:  Once an artist (author, musician, director, whatever) releases his work to the public, it no longer belongs to him, but to the viewer, listener, or reader.  Rocky is no longer Stallone’s, it your’syou were the one that attached whatever emotion to it, and it currently resides in your memory and our culture.  If art belonged solely to the artist, then Stallone could force me to forget the movie.  He can’t.

This proves it.  Be Kind, Rewind has validated its own premise through YouTube.  The concept of Sweded movies no longer belongs to Gondry’s fictional universe, but to hundreds of bored, webcam-having people.  Dollars to donuts at least one of these “directors” has never even seen Be Kind (the movie had a horrible gross at the box office.)

This has improved my opinion of both Be Kind Rewind and YouTube.

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The 2″ X 2″, 800 lb. Gorilla

October 8, 2008

They’re really trying to sell us on it.  We’ve got iPod Video and the matching iPhone.  We’ve got Verizon’s V Cast network.  We’ve got Zunes, and Sansa’s and Walkmen err.. Walkmans, whatever.  We’ve got thousands of options for watching our vidcasts, sports clips, music videos or stolen TV shows on the go.

All of these products have an inherent and obvious flaw that no one seems to mention.

I’ve got an iPod, and it plays videos.  My phone came with V Cast.  Aside from testing the functionality, I have never used either to watch a moving picture.  Maybe once, accidentally.  Why?  Very simple, the screen on the iPod is the size of Triscuit.  A Better Cheddar for my phone.  The iPod touch is little larger, about half a graham cracker.  Still as far as screen size goes, I want less Nabisco and more death steak.

I like podcasts and net shows.  I watch them on a semi-regular basis.  But never, after watching one on my 15″ monitor have I said “Oh shit, I gotta see that tomorrow in my friend’s car.”  I love “Goodfellas,” but I’ve never had the urge to watch Joe Pesci shoot Michael Imperioli in the foot while waiting 5 minutes for a triple double soy laté.

Go to the commons.  Look around.  You’ll see a shit-ton of iPods and their clones, most with video capability.  Now look at their people.  You’ll see a lot more head bobbing than eye scanning.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see some guy looking at a video on a cell phone.  Bad news V Cast, that’s no music video. The star of that video is himself, or one of his friends; probably intoxicated in some fashion, or maybe just saying some dumb, sober shit.

There’s reasons why music-on-the-move caught on.  You can do it while walking.  You can pay attention to the stops on the subway with your eyes while your ears are occupied.  Assuming you dislike ear trauma, no one really knows what your listening to, so there’s a privacy aspect.  And most importantly, no retina strain.  In all these cases mobile video fails to <insert corny chuckle here> size up.