Saturday, December 06, 2008

Quintessentials: Charlie Bit My Finger

Charlie Bit My Finger- again!

Look for Amy Bush's original post to get a summary of the film. It would be pointless to redo that, so I am going to look at this film and it's place in our world.

In picking a short for our Quintessentials Celebration, I decided to pick this one because it is probably the quintessential YouTube video of our time. In our class, we have long debated whether or not films like Charlie Bit Me are short films. One side says tat anything recorded on a camcorder can be classified as a short film, whether it be parents filming British kids biting each other or a full budget production like Green Porno. The other side says that the intention defines what the film is. Did someone gather crew members to film something and edit the footage into a short film? Or did the person just happen to have their camera rolling, not knowing they were going to put it on YouTube? The original short films of the late 1800's are similar to many Youtube videos of today: they are based on spectacle - something interesting/cool is happening on a screen in front of you. One thing that should be considered in this debate is the evolution of a definition. Breaking "short film" down, you can define it as "a film that is short." However, in culture, the term "short film" as evolved to mean something else. No one is going to submit something like "Charlie Bit Me" to a film festival - it's inherently understood that a "real" short film is something much more substantial and planned.

So why did I pick "Charlie Bit My Finger" as a quintessential short film if I don't think its a short film? Well, whatever it "is," it's what YouTubers love. I'd say 9 out of 10 YouTube links I get from friends are ridiculous things caught on camera. "He fell off that building!" "She said that live on TV!" YouTubers want something that wows them. Even legitimately made pieces become popular because of how bad they are, for example the Mick Jagger/David Bowie video "Dancing in the Street" has 500,000 views - and it's not because people think it is good. YouTube is basically an unfiltered America's Funniest Home Videos free for all. My own YouTube account reflects this. I have several of my own video projects online. Which one has the most hits by far? The one where I filmed a prank I did on my roommate. While I have scripted films I've made that I personally enjoy way more, the prank video is the one embraced by YouTubers (28,000 hits).

YouTube is a place where short films can thrive, but the ones that thrive the most are people that got lucky with a camera. Charlie Bit Me is the quintessential example of what we want to watch on YouTube.

1 comment:

K. Eng said...

I love your comment on "Dancing in the Streets". I love the reaction on my friends' faces when they see it for the first time.