A couple of people have asked me where this blog got its name. Well, the answer certainly isn’t this:
For me, this video dances on the event horizon where ‘utterly shit’ and ‘strangely intriguing’ seem to blend into one. I find lots of small elements weirdly compelling – the fact you can hear the creak of someone switching the camera on, the snippets of directorial advice from out of shot, their marked ambivalence to being on film, the crappy editing, and the way ‘Dario’s’ pubescent voice rollercoasters from high to low and back again. Somewhat inexplicably, they seem to have filmed it once, then run the whole lot back through a PC monitor, which they’ve filmed a second time, before putting it on youtube – as if the shitty quality was by design. I love the section with the world’s slowest, jerkiest stop-motion animation on the Lego man.
I don’t know. Maybe it reminds me of my own forays into film and animation as a teenager. I made a stop-motion Lego man animation on the family camcorder, called Pobin Nood And The Time Machine, which was as shitty as it sounds. I put it onto VHS and sent it to Aardman Animations, the creators of Wallace and Gromit. They wrote back with an encouraging letter, which I promptly exploited to secure a grant for better equipment. My friends and I also did live action projects – the Vietnam War satire Who Gives A Nam, the psycho-thriller Brain Damage, and the martial arts spectacular Fucking Solid Kung Fu Bastards, amongst others. They were all shot without scripts, using mostly improvised props, and lots of ad-libbed fight scenes. We had two 12″ LPs that we had found under some boxes in the school Drama department, one of soundtracks by the BBC Stereophonic Workshop, and one of BBC sound effects. These appeared, in some capacity, in every film we made. By the time Sixth Form started, I had given up film making forever. On the other hand, my partner in crime, Will, now has his own film production company.
But I don’t think bleary-eyed nostalgia quite describes what I’m feeling when I watch the above video. It’s closer to parallel states of fascination and complete boredom. Those two sensations don’t usually run in tandem, and perhaps that’s what makes it such a singular experience. Despite the mundanity, there’s a mildly uncomfortable intimacy to it. After I showed it to my girlfriend, she said: ‘I feel like I just watched the video out of The Ring.’
Best of all, I know that it lacks all the necessary elements of a viral video. It’s too long, there are no payoffs, it’s not spectacularly bad, just mediocre, and we don’t quite get the delicious frisson of feeling we’re privy to something that we weren’t meant to see, because they clearly made it for an audience. Yet, even though it was pretty boring the first time through, there’s something about it that makes me want to watch again. Most perplexing.