Wednesday, June 4, 2008

New Weezer Video

The video for the new Weezer song is a series of references to popular youtube phenomena (or what wikipedia calls "internet memes"). Most often, Weezer has (somehow!) gotten these losers to reprise their 3-minutes-of-fame-grabbing appearance in the video for this song, singing along or dancing, etc. Other times, the members of Weezer themselves are impersonating famous videos.

I'll be honest, I didn't "get" 80% of the references. I'll be more honest, whenever someone shows you a viral internet video, it's always really really embarrassing for that person. They are sitting next to you, saying, "yeah---oh wait here's the best part" and looking at you with this stupid grin. After you smile a little, out of pity, they say something dumb like, "well it was pretty funny the first time." Anyways, I looked up every reference made in this video, and the original youtube videos often had 20 million views, without ever being something weird or very funny. In short, I am shocked at our nation's sense of what constitutes "OMG you have to see this." Then again, I don't work in an office any more, so I am a bit removed from all this.

But even lamer is the "after-life" of the people who appear in these videos. Here they are in a Weezer video, which is a HUGE step up from the internet. But... don't they know... that they are popular in the first place for being wildly embarrassing? I contend that they don't. I mean, I don't think it is possible for someone to think that. A famously bad American Idol contestant from several years ago released an album to capitalize on his massive exposure. The question of whether he thought "he could really sing" or not is academic--his biggest mistake was thinking anyone would find him funny for a 45 minute CD. The Weezer video is funny (no, it's not, but we'll get to that) because it keeps the references short, they make the people recognizable (if you have seen their videos in the first place), and they pretend there is NO after-life for these people at all. They are here to "do their one thing." Which is all we want them to do.

What's sad is that people don't know what makes them funny in the first place. To ever read an interview with someone whose popularity was a fluke, and hear them describing their "new projects," is heart-breaking. You just wish someone would tell them, "We don't care about you now. Go back to where you came from." And I like the Weezer video's spirit in pretending that, wait, we actually like these people, they seem fun, let's all celebrate them one more time.

The reason, however, that the Weezer video is not "funny" is because... well, in what way could it be funny? I'm familiar with the concept of the joke, and there are a couple here, sure. But the majority of the youtube allusions can only be called "funny" if by that you mean "referential." Perhaps you thought someone doing something on video was funny--but does that carry over to watching them sing or dance along to a Weezer song? You can imagine millions of people seeing this video and saying, "Oh that's so funny, how did they get all those people to sing along? Do you think they used CGI or that they *really* had them all there?" etc. Where "funny" in this sentence means something like:
-not condescending to me
-expensively edited
-containing references understandable by me
-in front of me right now

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