Blog Post

FakeTube: Join the search!

I am MP:me. I use my laptop?s tiny camera, imovie, and YouTube to make and network small, ?bad? videos as part of my femi-digi-praxis. In this attempt, I?m out seeking productive fake docs on YouTube. Care to help me?

In my book, F is for Phony: Fake Documentary and Truth?s Undoing(which I edited with Jesse Lerner) I define the fake documentary as?fiction films that make use of (copy, mock, mimic, gimmick)documentary style and therefore acquire its associated content (themoral and social) and associated feelings (belief, trust, authenticity)to create a documentary experience defined by their antithesis,self-conscious distance.? Perhaps you?ve noticed, but such thingslitter, no really define, video on YouTube. Once the fake to acertainly dicey but notable real, on YouTube fake docs are the real toa decidedly disappeared belief, trust and authenticity. YouTube isdominated by mimicky gimmicks, glib repetitions, fake takes on thealready untrue. So many media morsels gleefully winking at their nearmirror image; so many video bloggers tipping their hats to theirmultiple fabricated selves. That?s the funny and fake vernacular ofYouTube: this sincere attempt at academic discourse and communicationwithstanding. Hey: you try to be earnest, genuine, yourself, in thissea of irony. Believe me, no one will trust its really you?

Now, the productive fake doc is another story. In the book weincluded 15 chapters on the sub-genre. But look as I may, I can?t find?em on YouTube. I defined productive fake docs ?as those thatself-consciously and directly engage with history, identity and truthin a political and formal project that links and unlinks power to theact of recording the visible world and to the documentary recordproduced.? This is where you come in.

I?ve been invited to give some talks in early 2009 about shifting media boundaries?fake/real, documentary/art?andI know that this must be happening on YouTube. Everything does. But whygo it alone?solo pundit braving it in the video wilds?when what I studyis famously based upon the new structures of collective intelligence,the wisdom of crowds, and the out-sourcing of labor in the name of fun.

Will you send me your favorite productive fake doc and participatein the play (here, on YouTube or Facebook)? Share with me a link andmake sure to add a comment if you want to convince me. And I?ll need itby early January to make the cut. If I like what I see and also whatyou say, I?ll include you in my glamorous upcoming talks in Iowa or atCAA. I promise.

Oh. Also: Could you pass this on? Network it? Can I trust you? Useyou? I don?t know where this project will end. But you can certainlyfollow me on-line as I attempt my productive fake quest through ourcontemporary video m

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8 comments

My colleague, and fellow-editor, Jesse lerner also turned me on to this video. I'm wondering how productively this, or any other stand-alone critique, works when floating (and competing) in the undifferentiated sea of YouTube.

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I hadn't seen the Old Negro Space Program . . . the banjo music, the fiddle music, the hilarious voice over, like the best parody really rips open the hypocrisy and sentimentalism of what it parodies while being very, very funny and well done.

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Very little interest-generating purpose: youtube was a primary communication tool and content distribution method in the shared-fiction future prediction that was Superstruct.

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no hidden gems here, but I assume you've seen the History of LOLcats?

it's a G4 network project, but clearly perfect for YouTube meme-osphere.

I think it fits the first part of your definition in its sendup of the hypernationalist Ken Burns formula, although given its adoption of civil rights discourse its politics is perhaps dubious. I'm not so certain it "links and unlinks power to the act of recording the visible world and to the documentary record produced" -- although perhaps I myself am understanding "recording the visible world" too strictly in terms of the real.

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The documentary-format film Wax: Or The Discovery of Television Among The Bees (wikipedia), is one of my favorites of the genre.
Currently, much of the Superstruct cooperative game predicting the future was conducted using Youtube, and might be relevant to your current interests.

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As far as "gimmick, mock" you have to check out "The Old Negro Space Program". I think this fits in pretty well with what you're looking for, the footage in some cases is actually ripped from some Ken Burns stuff, also, it's really funny.

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Thanks for this recc. It's good. How was YouTube used, may I ask, other than generating interest?

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That is a great fake and funny doc, so thanks, but not productive, as you also suggest. However, it effectively raises for me one of my central concerns in this project, namely: how are the register, affect, or meanings created by the fake doc approach different from those produced by "real" LOLcats. I am currently considering that the distancing, ironic, self-referential voice of fake docs IS the voice of YouTube. Any thoughts? Alex

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