Our in-house critics weigh in on Time’s top viral videos

As the clock runs out on 2008, there’s still time for one more year-end list. This one comes from Time magazine, which scoured the landscape of user-generated videos to find the most searing portrayals of small fuzzy animals in slapstick predicaments, grown men bringing the world together through dance, and other various and sundry viral video novelties.

We here at the filmlinc blog wondered why is it only cinematic portraits of the central Asian steppes or wrenching stories of girls and their lost dogs that get all the critical ink? So we tapped our in-house team for insights on the year’s top viral vids.

Eschewing Time’s #4 pick “Hamster on a Piano (Eating Popcorn)Film Comment’s Benjamin Schultz-Figueroa supplies this worthy alternative, “Walrus Plays Saxophone.” He says: “The walrus, long associated with the sinister and the ugly, from the myths of the  aurora borealis  representing lost souls playing ball with it’s head to Kipling’s description of the animal as an “old Sea Vitch—the big, ugly, bloated, pimpled, fat-necked, long-tusked walrus of the North Pacific, who has no manners except when he is asleep,” has finally been vindicated in this viral video which demands that we no longer think in such black and white terms as beauty vrs. beast or good vrs. evil.”

NYFF Correspondent Tom Treanor picks Time’s #7, How To Pretend You Give A Sh*t About The Election, above, as his top pick. Tom says: “The most informative news segment broadcast all year; a pointed, decisive, and altogether wildly educational crash course on how to get by at a cocktail party when discussing 2008’s favorite ad nauseum topic:  the presidential election.  When, after all, it’s hard to have a well-informed opinion about the mess of it all, it’s best to turn the discussion to the never-fail fallback: just say ‘swing state.'”

When pressed for his take on the state of viral video 2008, Film Comment Senior Editor Chris Chang issued this statement from his winter retreat in Sunset Park: “While the top ten viral-video list is indicative of salient, yet ominous, societal trends, there are more menacing tendencies at play. The contemporary bastardization of direct-cinema, Kino-Pravda, and other forms of “authentic” documentary, specifically as a means of social propaganda, continues to detract from the ontological value of documentary as such. On a purely ideological level it leads toward a forced normalization of intellectual condescension, i.e., a status quo of social elitism—or cultural fascism. Albeit a spatio-temporal impossibility, there can be only one (true) recourse: Bring PUPPY CAM back.”

[Time magazine’s Top Viral Videos of 2008]

Remember to check out our channel on YouTube. It’s filled with great director interviews and clips, and guaranteed to be 100% hamster free.

Explore posts in the same categories: in other news, inside the film society, just for fun, video, what's on

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