Never on Video

Written by Jester

Perhaps it's because my years studying Radio and Television gave me a healthy contempt for television and video, but I just don't understand the obsession some people have with it. I have no desire to grab a video camera and point it at my friends doing such gripping dramatic things as eating lunch. Hanging out at the mall. Lots of people however, do.

Ever go into a mall and see some idiot dad filming his idiot family standing in front of the fountain, or some vaguely interesting lump of art the mall owners have dumped near the foodcourt? While I still think it's tacky, I can see why someone might want to tape their wedding, but what golden memories must be preserved in a mall?

"Oh look darling, there we are in front of Le Chateau, and there's Music World off to the side! Remember how they had Meatloaf albums in the discount bin for $6.99? Good times."

Is the sort of thing you go home and watch later, over and over? Wouldn't you rather rent a few movies instead? Please don't inflict this sort of thing on your guests. Picture albums are bad enough. You will you bore your guest into the sweet caress of oblivion. And what if you're doing things like video taping little Johnny on the potty, then showing his girlfriend 16 years later? I promise you Johnny will drop you in a nursing home that regularly fails standard inspections at the first available opportunity.

I used to stand respectfully to the side or go around while idiots filmed themselves in public. Now I just march right on through. I've mentioned this before, but I do not believe that buying something expensive such as a car or nice compact Sony minicam entitles you to monopolize the public domain. So if your car alarm thinks I'm standing too close or making too much noise, or if my desire to go from point A to B ruins your shot of your mutant family in front of Radio Shack, too fucking bad. You'll just have to wait for me to pass if you want to film this somehow magical moment. If I'm feeling very nice, your film won't capture my middle finger and my unclad ass.

I think that these people are in their own small way trying to be TV stars. It's sad really. TV isn't the source of many great things when the professionals are cranking it out, so what the amateurs are putting out is nothing short of video pee-pee. Although, in the future, the existence of idiots will be well documented, thanks largely to their own filming habits. People who have video cameras think nothing of pointing one at themselves and pressing Record while doing the most stupid things.

What's even more mysterious, but perhaps encouraging, is the desire of people engaged in some kind of criminal activity to tape themselves. Quite recently, it's come to light that when you join a military outfit in North America, they make sure you won't be afraid of torture from the enemy by making sure they torture you as much as possible themselves in an initiation process known as "hazing." In order to welcome you to a unit or regiment, they insert irregular shaped items in your anus, rip your nipples off and then light you on fire, all to say "welcome aboard!" I shudder to think what a dishonorable discharge involves.

This process of hazing has been going on for many years. It was one of those every-body-knows-nobody-said-anything kind of situations. It would have probably continued to go on for years without comment, but then some genius started videotaping them. Video tapes go to the press, voila, scandal. It was a touch difficult to cover up, what with actual video footage willingly taken by the perpetrators and all.

This to me is the most mysterious aspect of this obsession with getting your ugly mug videotaped. Okay, you want to tape family gatherings, Hershel's Bar Mitzvah, fine. While such things when viewed will bore other people to death, at least the activities are legal. It's not a crime to bore someone, otherwise authors like Thomas Hardy would have spent their lives in prison.

The trend nowadays though is to videotape yourself breaking the law, or doing something you don't want others to know about. The hazing thing is a prime example. But we've also got things like people committing assault on somebody and bringing along a buddy to videotape it. Drug users taping their parties. I don't want my face on camera at the best of times, never mind when I'm doing something I don't want mom to know about. Perhaps I shouldn't complain though, as it makes prosecuting these kinds of people much easier. Others would concur with me:

You know, it's not that the kids drank and groped each other. It's that they lacked the brains to keep it off videotape. If this is what future breeds of criminals are going to be like, we can relax the level of police training a bit. It's not like you need Sherlock Holmes to unravel this case.

No mention of vidiocy would be complete without sex. Some couples enjoy filming themselves while in the act. Personally I'm all for kinky sex, but I'm also all for discretion. That means making sure that video tape isn't seen by anyone else. Oh, and be sure the person you're with at the time is trustworthy, and isn't libel to turn it into a handy downloadable .avi for the Internet.

Perhaps the most famous example of this is Tommy Lee and Pamela Lee Anderson (or just Pamela Anderson, depending on whether or not she's still married to him this week). What two people want to do in the bedroom is nobody else's business, but they should have been taking precautions to make sure that's where it stayed. Apparently the video was stolen by someone who was renovating the house, which tells me they didn't have it locked away safely. Sadly, this marriage has produced offspring. The odds of the child someday curing cancer seem unlikely, given the parenting.

At least the video was taken during one of the brief windows when Lee and Anderson were married to each other. Actor Rob Lowe had the ill grace to video tape himself with two least one of whom was underage. Here we get back to the illegal thing again. Never video tape something you won't want a judge to see.

Oh yeah--alcohol and video camera--big mistake. Enough said.

Sigh. This rant shall now run out of steam as I realize I am guilty of this very behavior. Not to the same extent as some of these other yahoos, but I am suddenly reminded of one trip to a friend's cottage that had us re-enacting the kill-the-pig dance scene from Lord of the Flies. Well, at least my indiscretion wasn't illegal, plus it was fairly literary to boot.

All the same, I hope Michelle destroyed the tape.