Writing, July 2016

Welcome to the Video! Video! Criticism section, with texts about our video submissions from real live writers. Read hot video words from real live writers here online for free! This month’s contributors include Sid Branca, Sarah Quillin.

Sid Branca on Strawberry Shortcake by Mary Clare Pelch

CW: None Provided by Artist

According to the Jump Rope Institute, which is a thing that exists: "Since the beginning of time, man has instinctively jumped from one object to the next and into open space in need to function and adapt to a constantly changing environment. As a reflex, it is one of the most natural movements of the human body, triggered inherently from the need to attack, gain advantage in combat, escape dangerous animals, dance in rituals, gather food from trees, in celebration or for friendly competition."

According to my childhood, rituals emerge in the face of fear. Life is, indeed, a constantly changing environment. Both joy and suffering can seem meted out by external forces, our fates wrapped up in complex causalities so distant from our daily actions as to feel utterly unrelated. What will happen when I die? Will I ever fall in love? What do I look to for structure in chaos? We build rituals to give us answers. Catechisms, divinations, games of chance. Strawberry shortcake, cream on top, tell me the name of your sweetheart.

According to the armchair-psychologizing on Wikipedia, WAM (wet and messy fetishism) or sploshing, which often features the smashing of cakes or pies, may be related to the thrill of doing things one was told not to do as a young child. Play with your food. Take yourself an arbitrary and temporary sweetheart. Yell in church. Ruin your cute little white socks. Make a mess.

Sid Branca | sidbranca.com

Grace Mitchell on Bitute Pilkoji by Ulijona Odisarija

CW: None Provided by Artist

The subject of this bootlegged video “Bitute Pilkoji” (“Gray Bee,” a Lithuanian folk dance) is a child playing a conductor. She appears to be a musical tyro acting like a magician sans magic tricks without a care in the world, donning a top hat, bow tie, and penguin suit to compensate for any sort of amateurish tempo or direction. The crowd either impressively or patronizingly applauds, egging on the confidence of the performer, but I wonder: who is this performance for? Is it to humor the audience before the orchestra produces a more elaborate concert? Or is it for the young girl to cherish as she further ekes into a world of critics and requirements? Maybe neither. There’s something sorta sweet and doomed when it comes to faking magic, but in this case it appears as though the child, the orchestra, and the audience are all faking it, so whom are they faking it for?

Speaking of TV, there’s a nice sitcom moment which concludes the video and performance: The fatherly adult conductor enters the room, ending the conductor-kid’s playtime with the orchestra, and takes over, giving breath for the audience to reward the girl’s defiant act of pretending to steal the show. The girl walks offstage, and I continue her trajectory onto the backstage of “Full House.” The temper tantrums that follow a wrapped scene. Reality TV. Kids Say the Darndest Things, but does that make them stars?

What perhaps differentiates this child from the traditional child star is that this kid is not an obvious prodigy. She smiles and looks cute in the same way that every child looks cute, but is there a serious astonishment to her undertaking?

Do you dress-up a prodigy in a top hat?

Having prodigal talent does not always matter when it comes to entertaining a group of adults, which leads me to the most impressive part of this child’s performance: she was able to appear to be enjoying herself in front of an orchestra, a large audience, and TV viewers, live. Her smile lacked nerves, her hands shook nada once, and she left the stage without a hiccup. She has accomplished what many adults are unable to do, and for that, I applaud her un-anxious excellence.’

Dakota Loesch on 1985 Homemade Music Video ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ Twisted Sister by Weird Paul Petroskey

CW: Cartoon Violence

Um, holy shit. What did I just luck into here? This video stirs up so many questions in the 80s themed soup that is my brain. How have I gone 28 years on the planet Earth without any knowledge of this? How can I ever be the same again now that I know about Weird Paul Petroskey, self proclaimed “Original Vlogger” and proto-fan video maestro? And how is this guy not the biggest thing in the fucking World? This video in particular is a perfect encapsulation of Weird Paul’s body of work… homemade, rough around the edges, low grade VHS quality, and chock full of heart and soul. It puts to shame the original Twisted Sister video while also honoring it. Does Paul know just how brilliant this piece is? Is Paul aware that he transformed a Dee Snider shit sandwich into an unabashed metaphysical revelation on childhood adoration, hero worship, outsider art, DIY filmmaking, and accidental genius? Can Paul possibly recognize just how potent and biting his own work is, or is he blind to its importance due to his love for the artists he pays tribute to and (by and large) out-shines? Excuse me for a few weeks, if anyone needs me I’ll be in the nostalgia-laden lovely little internet K-Hole that is known as Weird Paul Petroskey.

Daniel Tovar on William by Lillie West

CW: None Provided by Artist

In “William,” Lillie West poses adult questions to her young brother. "What is your occupation?," "What are your passions?," "What is your greatest fear?," etc. The responses are predictably naive, ranging from gurgling sounds, to statements of incomprehension, to moments of brief enlightenment—as if these questions are showing William aspects of himself that he has never, heretofore, articulated to himself. The contrast between William's responses and Lillie's high-minded questions is marked by a juxtaposition, revisited several times in the video, between shots of William sitting in the interview and William chasing ducks while making spitting sounds.

What this juxtaposition indicates is unclear. Perhaps it is a celebration of the idyllic, unencumbered desires of the young, untouched by the means-end reasoning that structures our adult lives, directing them to more loftier goals. Or perhaps it is an illustration of the morass of animal desires that underlie our actions, desires that form the basis of our psychologies, motivate our movements throughout the world, and ultimately determine the direction of our lives. Seen in this latter light, we adults do not take control of our lives by reasoning about our desires, thus directing them to more informed goals. Rather, reason merely does the work of articulating the desires that are already there. Reason is the slave to desire, and as such, we are still subservient to those base desires we thought we outgrew years ago.




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