Tuesday, December 02, 2008

An Insult with a Lesson in Diplomacy

Por que no te callas (Why don't you shut up!)
Source: youtube.com

I've decided to talk about Raissa's post way back at the beginning of the semester about a commercial for Suncom Wireless. Since it is in Spanish, I will repost Raissa's translation of the commercial before I say anything more.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela would not back down during the speaking time of the Spanish delegation. He kept insulting the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, with regards to his predecessor Jose Maria Aznar. In a response to Chavez's behavior, the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, YELLED at Chavez, "why don't you just shut up!" The video continues by saying "Wanna keep talking? Don't worry, Suncom wireless has all types of plans for you including call waiting."
The exchange of words between King Carlos and President Hugo Chavez took place ON November 10, 2007 at the Ibero- American Summit in Santiago, Chile.

I picked this particular short film because I think that it gets at the essence of the difference between short films and film as a document and shows how our (or at least my) definition of a short film has expanded during the semester. Short film is something I thought of as a generally artsy and exclusive club, but it is no such thing. Music videos clearly belong to the short film club as do commercials. However, what starts to muddle the short film category is when we introduce Youtube and home videos in general into the mix and whether they should be determined as something different than the traditional short film. Youtube videos may be a bit coarser in various ways, but film is a title that suits them well.

This commercial illustrates the line between documentation and film well. The recording of the various diplomats was captured to show people, either in the news or in a live broadcast, what was going on at the meeting and to generally provide information for reporting. However, that documentation was then manipulated by Suncom to create a commercial and, consequently, a short film.

While the commercial turns out relatively fancy, the line between documents and short films is one easily broached without a large budget. The Youtube short, Charlie bit my finger - again!, illustrates my point. That moment of film was presumably caught as part of a larger recording documenting the two brothers. When the filmer saw that moment and decided to share it with the world, he changed that documentation into a film by editing which parts were to be shown. Even if the filmer only caught that particular moment, the mere act of putting it on Youtube transforms it by allowing it to be subject to the public gaze. The idea of the public gaze is one way to transforms a document by making the filmer self-conscious of his or her film as something that now stands on its own independent of the filmmaker. Previous to posting the document on Youtube (or any other film-sharing website), people who would have seen the document from a similar perspective of the filmer since they would be close to the situation. This shows film as a transformation from the private view of the cameraman to the public view of an audience which is free to inteprete the film in many different ways. This is perhaps one way to show how Youtube movies (and home videos) can move beyond documentation into film and documentaries even without the idea of editing.

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