This recent CBS exclusive interview of Matt Damon which caught fire several weeks ago in light of Presidential nominee John McCain’s appointment of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate has permanently found its place in American popular culture. Over 2 million people saw this interview on YouTube. The piece works as a standalone short film because of its mass appeal and the candid testimony of a hailed
The actual content of Damon’s spiel is not the issue of concern. To the average viewer, Damon’s fighting words should be considered of no greater value as compared to the already unreliable voices of the liberal institution of loud-mouth
But the reality of the culture established by YouTube proves that popularity is often a prerequisite to getting one’s video noticed. Sometimes this notion of popularity is earned by the filmmakers themselves after they have generated a fan base. For instance, the “Leave Britney Alone” girl and the “What’s Next” guy have secured a large fan base and even managed to establish cyber-celebrity status. But Damon is already a brand name. And while he may lack credibility, he is far more interesting than your average Jane Smith voicing her opinion.
The most compelling aspect of the film is that it occurs in one single take. The camera never moves once. For a medium that was established for the purpose of motion pictures, is it feasible to even label Damon’s interview a successful short film? Or should we just remember the piece for its interesting sound bytes (i.e. Damon considering McCain’s VP selection as from a ‘bad Disney movie’)?
In the future, when people do a web-search for Matt Damon’s interview concerning his views on Sarah Palin they won’t be looking for radio clips or press releases because it’s the video that they will remember. It can be discussed and argued that maybe such videos devalue the short film form by diluting the art form to merely a static source of celebrity gossip. But look for these videos to increase in volume and popularity over the web as many celebrities are finding the ease with which they can channel such opinions to an infinite number of people.
This also establishes a dangerous precedent. It proves that even though the internet may seem a level playing field of exposure for one’s opinions or art, a person’s popularity in the physical world is inherently far more likely to carry them far into cyberspace. Can you say Paris Hilton?