Posts Tagged ‘Les Glaneurs et La Glaneuse’

Not all egoists are good essayists, but all good essayists have egos. And the video essayists? Supersized.

When you decide to craft an essay, video, print or other, you do so because you feel like what you have to say is supremely important, or at least important enough that the public should be consuming your work and thinking, “Wow, that’s important.” From that moment on you’re constantly walking the fine line between indulging your audience and indulging yourself, something that I find is much more easily distinguished in video than in print. With video, you have control not only over words, but also over image and sound, both of which contribute to the total finished product. The viewer can see when you place yourself in the frame, hear when you record a voiceover and read what you choose to dub and caption.

I made the mistake of watching both the Moore and the Spurlock in a single night, and by the time I was finished I wanted to give up on essay writing altogether, eat a bowl of wheat germ and call it a night. It wasn’t that either of them were intolerably obnoxious, rather, I just got tired of watching them prance around being hyper self-aware of themselves and their cameras. What is so endearing about Varda is that she just plays in front of her camera—she eats grapes, looks at her hands holding heart-shaped potatoes, looks at her hands, all with a sense of wonderment, which you can hear in her voice. The beauty of Varda is that she’s just so wonderfully uncalculated. She has a thesis of sorts (which, as another classmate put it, had “something to do with stooping”), but past that point she seems to abandon all planning and just rolls with it, much like her cameras.

My problem with Supersize Me is that I think this could have been a fine project without the part where he actually goes and eats McDonald’s for 30 days. That was the part of the Spurlock that I found to be a little too much—this was the product of some guy who wanted to see himself on camera. At least, that’s the impression I got, and it turned me off. It doesn’t interest me that your girlfriend can tell that your (very purposeful and intentional) consumption of 5,000 fat calories a day is affecting your sex life. I do, however, find it hilarious that of the 8 times you were asked to supersize, 5 of them were in Texas.

Similarly with Moore, I understand that you wanted to make a film about Flint because it’s your hometown, but I just don’t need the sound of many minutes of droning voiceover clouding my experience. I got the impression Moore found his monosyllabic, sarcastic tone quite droll, which just annoyed me even more. I think one of the funniest moments in Roger & Me was when Miss Pets-or-Meat was like, “Yeah, I’m going back to veterinary school. There’s lots of animals that need taking care of.” This, of course, after we just witnessed her casually clubbing a rabbit with a baseball bat, not to mention skinning and gutting it. Shit like that, straight from the economically down source, that’s golden. It’s your job as the essayist to seek out those gems. Put your subjects before yourself, or else claim YouTube as your home turf.

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