Saturday, May 24, 2008
Why I hate the new Weezer music video
I was shown this video yesterday. It was on the front page of youtube.
The video features 'internet memes', singing along to the song. There's nothing holding the video together more than that- it's just people who were famous on the internet for a while for various reasons, mostly to do with being ridiculed and laughed at, all in one video. There's the numa numa guy, Miss South Carolina, Tay Zonday, Chris Crocker, the 'Shoez' guy. They do pepsi/mentos and there's an 'homage' to star wars kid. You get the picture.
When I first saw it I had this revulsion to it. This instant reaction of queasy dislike. I couldn't put my finger on quite what it was that I hated so much about it. My brother said I only hated it because I wasn't in it, which I actually thought about for a moment (and discuss below). But I think it's something deeper than that, and more profound (and I know I am taking this too seriously, but I think this actually does warrant exploration).
The more I've thought about it, the more I feel like the video is kind of... racist? I don't know what the right language is really. But I guess... I see the internet as a place, a community of people who have put themselves there. It's made of millions of people interacting in some way, and youtube is the most up to date way (still) that they are doing this. We (people who post online video) are putting ourselves out there for anyone to see, to comment on, to judge. And that's fine.
TV and 'old media', and people even online generally don't know what to make of this so anything that's kind of amusing in a non-self referential way, that you can laugh AT, not with, becomes fair game and popular. I think that's long been one of the things humans like to do but it's generally not acceptable to laugh in people's faces like we do online. Laughing at the fat kid in his bedroom is ok on the internet, and it's always been something we've wanted to do, it's just society that's made us pretend like we don't want to. Or something. That's my best explanation for why these videos are so popular anyway.
Take the list above, of people in this video. Miss South Carolina, Tay Zonday, Chris Crocker- those people we have all seen online and laughed at. Laughed AT. People offline have heard of them because they've become so huge online that they've even made their way off of it. To news rooms and in parodies, and into terrible movies. They as people are put up as examples of what the internet-people are.
Well I am an internet person. I conduct a chunk of my life online, and I'm fine about that. I don't see that as negative or bad or laughable. And having these people held up as examples- the only examples- of what my life means, well wouldn't you be offended?
It's like the UK being represented solely by Mr Bean. And even then the analogy doesn't stand up because he's a character, and the enjoyment of him is just that- we aren't laughing at a real person, we're laughing at something invented by someone. (for the record I actually hate Mr Bean and refuse to watch it). No- it's like us being represented solely by a contestant on Pop Idol- one of the really really bad ones. Or Jade Goody.
So this community online is being literally laughed at. These people, weezer are saying- these people are youtube! Haha look at these losers.
So that's how I guess I see it as racist. About 2 years ago I made a video about 'the state of youtubia' about us being a community of people who have put ourselves out there and are a literal community, sharing ideas and bonding in a very real sense in a virtual place.
And I don't believe that Chris Crocker et al are representative of that. They are the black and white minstrels of the internet. I don't think my 'e-race' deserves to be laughed at. Sure, the laugh-at-them losers of youtube will always exist, but the thing is- they aren't the whole story. It's like holding up leiderhosen as the entirety of Germany. Paella as the entirety of Spain. It doesn't add up, it's simplistic and unrealistic, and more to the point, it's offensive.
And as for me wanting to be one of those people in the video- I think that actually goes deeper. These examples are successes, aren't they? Despite everything I've said, in a sense, they have succeeded- at the very least made money, and appeared in a real music video for a real band. And so... is that what I want? Is that what we all want? to hit on some formula for a perfect internet 'laugh-at-this-retard' meme that will get us on the Tonight Show and into Wayans Brothers movies? It's like the prize in a race you don't even want to be racing in. So you know... I think my gut reaction maybe was a pang of 'but what about me?!', and then a pang of revulsion at myself and my own first reaction. They ARE the winners of the internet, I guess. Atleast they are the winners in the short term. Who knows what will happen. I know I don't want to make a video for people to laugh at me. With me is fine, but I try my best to avoid them laughing at me. As I imagine most everyone does.
Ok... I have to dismount from this high horse. It's not as big a deal as I'm making it out to be, but I wanted to explore what it was that made me so uneasy about this video of weezer's. Not to mention their desperate (and I imagine somewhat sucessful) attempt to get popular online by piggy backing memes which everyone is surely bored of by now.
at 12:56 pm