Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Why Does This Video Exist? (#2)

Enjoy these twenty seconds of reality and then join me for a discussion below!



[Note, this video, originally uploaded four years ago, was re-uploaded this year, and I'm using the re-upload because the audio is no longer aligned on the original one (which is still up, with a glorious cache of comments built up over the years.)]

Okay, so... where to begin.

Let's look at the FACTS:

$- The actions in this video depict a man ripping off three pairs of pants, and then punching a young woman in the face.

$- This video may be an actual candid moment captured on camera, or it may be "fake".

$- If it is "fake", that means the young woman does not actually get punched in the face, although the man does actually rip off three pairs of pants.

$- If the woman does not actually get punched in the face, a group of at least two (2) people saw incentive to demonstrate a punch in the face (in conjunction with ripping off three pairs of pants).

$- If the punch in the face is "real", [it seems safe to list as fact that] the girl did not expect it.

$- Ripping off three pairs of pants and punching a young woman in the face are two things which are not DIRECTLY related.

Okay, now lets discuss both realities

NOT FAKE:

In the context of being real, this is a truly bizarre 20 seconds of footage to exist. The juxtaposition of silliness and brutality is so sharp that I'm pretty confident in saying we haven't seen anything like it before. Additionally, because the blow is non-life-threatening, the series of events is (depending on how terrible of a person you are deep down) somewhat within the realm of funny. Rarely are two extreme, unrelated AND non opposite actions (that's an important distinction) located so close together in a given time and place. Don't get me wrong--ripping off three pairs of pants isn't amazing... by itself it falls just short of "belongs on YouTube". But if you saw it happen spontaneously at a cocktail party (or even weirder, not at a party) it would be a significantly elevated moment, one which would definitely make you wish you had it on tape. Additionally, a young woman getting punched in the face is certainly horrifying, but through the filtration of YouTube, it's more interesting than horrifying (YouTube emotional decontextualization is an interesting phenomenon that I'll get more into at a later date).

If the video is real, the juxtaposition of "three pairs of pants being ripped off" (uninteresting but cool) and "girl getting punched in the face" (uncool but interesting) within a five second span... well, it activates entirely too many neural regions not to be some sort of sick thrill to behold. One can't help but wonder what it would have been like to be there. What was the relationship like between the guy and the girl? What type of cocaine was he doing? How long did he practice the pants trick? At what moment during the pants trick did he decide he was going to be punching someone in the face?

The more you think about it, the more you begin to realize that this video tape is, in many ways, too good to be true. I don't mean that it's awesome that a girl may have been punched in the face, but--were this a real spontaneous event--the videotape thereof is almost too phenomenal to handle. While it's scope is different, it is categorically similar to the internet's best video (that I'm aware of), The Battle at Kruger, for it's unrivaled capture of natural occurrence.

But like I said earlier, it's really too good to be true.

FAKE:

Some days (yes, I think about this video about as often as I think about my own childhood) I can't tell what is more phenomenal: a real video depicting a guy tearing off pants and punching a woman in the face -OR- an agreed upon plan to film someone ripping off three pairs of pants and then immediately punching someone in the face.

Imagine this sentence being spake aloud: "We should make a video where I rip off three pairs of pants and then punch Claire in the face" or "Hey we should film you ripping off three pairs of pants and then pretend to punch me in the face" or "Jimmy, you should let me film you doing your pants trick, IMMEDIATELY followed by the trick you and Claire do with the punch in the face."

And then imagine a response to any of these being, "Holy shit, you're right!"

Any combination of one of the first three sentences with the last sentence is almost as bizarre an occurrence as the real thing actually happening. And--assuming it is fake--a conversation like that DID take place, as evidenced by this video's existence.

The fact that this video is fake (and lets face it... it is) but looks real, speaks volumes about how the creators view YouTube. This video is definitely not a descendant of America's Funniest Home Videos (even though, by virtue of it's overwhelming absurdity--and as evidenced by the comment section--it has clearly generated some laughs). Furthermore, it's not quite a tornado-vid or car-crash-vid or some other "Holy shit I can't believe they got this on film!" (unless it's real, which it isn't). It's not really a fail vid because the guy is clearly acting on intentions with some success. And lets be honest, as much as people are concerned about this in the comment section, it's NOT a simple glorification of violence to women and that's it. Because, rapid removal of pants is simply not related to non-sexual violence towards women (and we can agree that the punch in the face is largely non-sexual).

I think the reason I find this video so compelling is because it's the fusion of two things that are dramatic, cinematic, drastic, and--again--COMPLETELY unrelated. It's like that blog Nick Cage as Everyone, where pictures of famous (NON-Nick Cage) people are photo-shopped to have Nick Cage's facial features. The reason the blog is hilarious is not because the pictures are bizarre (which they are), or because Nick Cage's features makes everyone in history look stupid (which they do). It's because, as we're viewing each .jpeg, we're very familiar with 1) what Nick Cage looks like and 2) what the other celebrities are supposed to look like. These two very identifiable but utterly unrelated images are fused together simply for the cross-section of an absurd new reality. It's like when they put Anton Chigurh in a Photoshop interacting with the Mario Brothers (I'm not sure I've ever seen this, but this is my residual impression of the Internet). It's the real reason True American Dog is hilarious. Bizarre, sure. Absurd, definitely. But when members of different families we know well get pushed up close to each other, it has a dizzyingly silly effect. Imagine going to charity bake-sale and spotting your coworker from the cubicle next to you, dancing the Charleston with your aunt. How do they even know each other?? Why is your aunt in town from Toledo without you knowing about it? Their two worlds are full of meaningful context individually, but together, they defy comprehension. For me, this is like a roller coaster. I can't do real roller coasters because my inner ear does not enjoy disorientation. Some people would be so confused by their coworker dancing the Charleston with their aunt that it would be upsetting, like some kind of psychedelic trip gone too heavy.

I suspect most people would laugh with bewilderment.

To me, ripping off pants is my co-worker, and punching someone in the face is my aunt. I'm perfectly adjusted to them individually, separately... but together I have no clue how to process them. And the lack of explicability for very familiar things is an intense level of absurdity on par with that described by Albert Camus in The Myth Of Sisyphus, except the detachment of the Internet filters out the despair, leaving only an intellectual tilt-a-whirl.

Epilogue:

One of the many, many pages of comments has someone saying, "if you search stunt reel: Nancy McCrumb, you'll find her doing this again". Another comment tells the people complaining how awful this video is to shut up because it's part of a stunt girl's demo reel. I've looked into this, and there is a video featuring a girl with similar features getting her ass kicked in a bunch of stunt-takes. I don't know if it's her, but it probably is, because that would be very strange of someone to try proving something fake by offering fake evidence against it (you know, with having relatively little to gain, as would be the case here).

Sadly, a stunt-reel is the one scenario that (sorta) makes this 20 seconds of magic make perfect sense. Finding this out is sorta like finding out that Santa's not real. Still, there are probably other videos out there as inexplicable as I wish this video was. If you know about them, please send them to me, post haste.

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