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’s; you 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.