OK, I have like a half hour before Cat gets home from her ER clinical, and I can’t subject Twitter to this. I finally saw Marina Shifrin’s video resignation from Next Media Animation:
1. I say “finally”. It’s been up since September 28.
2. 15.4 million views. That’s nearly three times as many as NMA’s top video: “Real life Barbie: 21-year-old Ukrainian Valeria Lukyanova undergoes surgery”, which I’m not going to link because yeah.
3. The “official” NMA response has 4 million views. More on them in a sec.
4. My secondary takeaway is: Shifrin’s gonna take over the world. I don’t know if I mean that pejoratively. One of the comedy bits on her YouTube channel, after all, is one of those Silverman-type lateral-thinking-but-still-offensive bits. (It’s titled — no shit — “Not Racist”, so if you want to stay away I’m nodding assent.) I quit a job once and ended up in a Bud Ice stupor for three months. She quit a job and got to shoot the breeze with Latifah.
5. My primary takeaway: that was affecting. There’s a whole fucking demilitarized zone between her dancing and that of the remaining NMA crew. Look at her commitment: the way she gives herself to her modified skanking (enjoy that video; it’s delightful), how she doesn’t look at the camera, how she’s all balls and elbows and glide. I keep rewatching it. Even though it was intended for virality, she captured something wondrous: pure, joyful dance, untrained and unrestrained.
6. Contrast that with NMA’s gentle kissoff of a parody. Lots of self-consciousness, tons of looking at the camera, a section full of basic group moves. One guy (the boss, looks like) does the Running Man: last resort of the vibe saboteur. Y&R Israel’s come-work-for-or-pay-attention-to-us video has the same problem. They’re an attractive bunch, no doubt, but one guy’s doing the Modified Robot. If you want to advertise that we’ll let You be You, you gotta have someone on staff who can let loose, even if it’ll be flogged for views. Shifrin managed it.
7. Karaoke gets the ink, but for me, lipsynching’s where it’s at. I was an inveterate lipsyncher from high school through a solo living stint. I wrote as much as either of us can probably handle on my karaoke experiences in this TSJ blurb; I know it’s a complex skill, one that requires judicious song selection combined with decent pipes (or the indulgence provided by being a bar regular). Delivery, theoretically, comes first, but projection covers venial sins. Still, there’s something about inhabiting a song without pressure, whether via solo singing, synching, or dancing.
8. Karaoke requires an audience. If you’re doing it for yourself, you’re either too good or you’re the asshole who thought tanking Creed’s “Higher” was an indictment of the North Parmer Tavern. (We saw through you like a screen door, you jag.) I missed a NY karaoke session toward the end of Stylus’ run. It sounded rad. But even with a crew of sweet-natured generalists, I’m sure I would’ve felt the pressure to get it right. Song choice, commitment: to kill at karaoke requires that you throw yourself out in a calculated configuration.
9. “Dance like no one is watching” is a goofy aphorism. It’s also dead on.
10. To express yourself without hurting anyone; to inhabit a song; to work shit out without worrying if someone’s getting bored or if friends and strangers are buying into you as a person; to be an aesthetic experience for your pleasure, yours alone: this is the promise of the radio and home media.
11. Shifrin’s video was mediated, obviously, but she still did what two offices full of young techies couldn’t: she did her thing without irony, without self-consciousness.
12. So do our most ingratiating entertainers. But they never get so elemental.
13. Also, she got Kanye in the Billboard Top 20 this year. Kanye couldn’t get Kanye in the Billboard Top 20 this year.
That spoilers piece was actually an elaborate reminder that there’s no way in hell I can make this history of Austin/history of ACL Fest/history of “Keep Austin Weird” hold together.
In a July 2010 article for The Awl, Nate Freeman dates the internet origin of “SPOILER ALERT” to a June 8, 1982 Usenet post about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Internet use being what it was 31 years ago, that was an extraordinarily cautious gesture on behalf of a readership that (I’m speculating wildly) might have been inclined to see a Star Trek film in its opening weekend. As far as the pre-Web notion of spoilers, the internet credits Douglas Kenney, co-writer of Animal House and Caddyshack. He contributed an article titled “Spoilers” to the April 1971 issue of National Lampoon. I can’t find the article online, but it purportedly gives away plot points for a number of major films.
Shifting back to Star Trek: earlier this year, Vulture rounded up notable reviews of the second Star trek reboot and how they handled [SPOILER ALERT, I GUESS, IF YOU MISSED IT IN THE THEATER AND ON THE REDBOX AND ON NETFLIX AND ARE APPARENTLY WAITING FOR THE J.J. ABRAMS SPACE GUYS FIGHTING COMPENDIUM] the reveal that Benedict Cumberbatch’s John Harrison was actually Khan. Some called him John Harrison throughtout. Some alluded to a crazy twist. Others noted Harrison had some other identity, but played it coy. Because she too likes to live dangerously, the Village Voice's Amy Nicholson spilled it in the second sentence.
Her reward was a fair sampling of the rage spectrum, from “God, I miss Roger Ebert” to “hopefully they will deny Nicholson access to any future screenings and make her career as miserable as humanely for pulling such a total bitch move” to ”Typical cunt rag, Village Voice move”. A commenter dubbed yoshimatzah (who — I’ll be petty for a second — ended up triple-posting the same paragraph) sounded a particularly defeated note:
But you have robbed me of the pleasure of being surprised, that aha moment when you realize “oh holy shit it IS Khan!” Because now when I see it I will know it is coming.
Profanity aside, Roger Ebert would have approved. You won’t find too many critics offering a full-throated defense of spoilers, but Ebert was an avowed advocate of secrecy. “The characters in movies do not always do what we would do,” he wrote in a 2006 examination of the political climate surrounding movies about disabled persons. “Sometimes they make choices that offend us. That is their right. It is our right to disagree with them. It is not our right, however, to destroy for others the experience of being as surprised by those choices as we were.”
Ebert’s “we” is not restricted to film fans. It includes critics. The problem begins here.