I’m not on TikTok, but I sorta love the idea of it. [I realize that these platforms geared towards the youths probably (definitely) contain very dark channels; I’ve read horror stories.] But the TikTok videos I have seen, as shared on Instagram and Facebook (the old peoples’ social media platforms) are mostly delightful. And beyond that, they make me really hopeful about the future of film and music and art. The complex creativity of some of the videos rivals the work of Melies the cinematic magician. I saw a video of a man fighting several versions of himself, his own arms and fists flying everywhere. I saw a video of men hugging themselves. I’ve seen videos of people changing their moods or their clothes or their very bodies within the space of a couple of minutes. And sometimes dancing while they do it. Ordinary people, in ordinary homes, making something extraordinary.
The tools to create this magic are available to anyone who can afford a phone, but the creativity and commitment are commendable. I adore film, real film, I love the smell of it, the feel of it, the (gooseberry-like) amount of time it takes to transform it into something watchable, and the fact that all of that is literally in your hands. I love the idea of light passing through the image and projecting somewhere else, which is, frankly, so much more beautiful than a little video watched on a little screen of someone’s pocket-sized phone. But everything about real film is insanely expensive, unwieldy and increasingly unavailable. These days a kid can record a little film, a full song, a video of themselves making a drawing or a painting. AND THEY DO! And then there’s a whole network to SHARE this creativity, and LIKE it, and COMMENT on it. At no expense to anyone, no agents or salesmen or marketing directors necessary.
The movie industry, at least in Hollywood, has always been BIG. Everything’s a blockbuster and bloated and expensive and just generally too much. Films seemed to just be getting bigger and bigger and more and more expensive and bloated. But now all the cinemas are shut down because of Covid–the nearest to me possibly forever. I’m not happy about that, I love love a couple hours in the movie theater, dreaming other peoples’ dreams in flickering images in the salty, sticky, sugary communal dark. Love it. But maybe we can take this time to reassess. To celebrate the creativity of kids making tiny films on their phones, and sharing them with anyone who will watch, to celebrate the fact that so many people do watch. To celebrate the tools that aren’t out of anybody’s reach.
I love the passionate and earnest writings of critics and filmmakers on early cinema. They were parentally possessive about this tender new technology; this art so full of potential magic. They wanted to shape the language and the aesthetics of this brand new beautiful medium. I’d love to see something like that for phone-made-videos. Some manifesto of where we’re going with all of this. Maybe there is one (or many), I’m old, I wouldn’t know. (I don’t need to know, and I shouldn’t know.) Because I also love the language they use … Pure or Clean. Pure is my favorite. It means sincere, I think, and I’m glad it’s a quality that is admired. My favorite “pure” video showed the poster’s mother doing a little dance at the bottom of the stairs waiting for the poster’s boyfriend to come down and see his birthday surprise. Honestly, everything about that is beautiful to me. The kids are alright. We have to believe that they are.
Films made with just love and friends and vision. I love that, I really do. I’m happy, excited, to see what bright visions we will be privileged to watch.
I guess this is unrelated, but I love everything about it.