I learned recently that my submission to America’s Funniest Home Video had been rejected.
Not that it came as a surprise. The footage is grainy, with crappy sound, shot on an early iPhone (which I guess is redundant). Still, I challenge producers to capture anything as unabashedly trusting.
But it got me thinking about viral videos. What makes them such a barometer of the zeitgeist? Why does Winnebago Man speak to our inner Walter White (beyond the guy trying to sell Walt’s vehicle of choice)?
Why does David After The Dentist philosophize so eloquently to our inner stoned child?
Or Keyboard Cat strike a chord in the inner animal in all of us, or at least maestro?
Then I realized: they work because they’re not trying to. When so many things are produced, prepackaged and beta tested, we rarely get an unrehearsed moment. Which makes them sing like Socrates.
And there was another through-line: none of them give a shit about recognition. In fact, when I told Teddy and Esme they weren’t going to be on AFHV (Esme’s favorite show), they went right back to sleep. I think they actually would have preferred not to have been awakened with the news (unlike those Oscar contender phonies who claim to be asleep when the nominees are announced at 5:30 a.m.).
Perhaps the hounds had a point. Maybe it’s about consciousness, not clicks. Maybe it shouldn’t even be called a viral video; viruses are nearly always unfortunate news. A good viral video can heal the soul, even when it captures life in all its love, frustration, Novocain and pet hair.
Even when it tastes like Boston Terrier.