On inclusion

Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind is clever, integrating a series of movies into a movie. It’s the story of sweding. It’s got Mos Def and Jack Black. It’s not brilliant – it has it’s flaws. It’s exactly what you’d think it would be – creative, fun, at times subtle, completely off kilter.

And to me, it was touching.

The word doesn’t seem to fit. Touching? In a movie starring Jack Black? In a movie about re-recording video tapes because they’ve all been magnetized by some idiot in a junkyard?

Yes. Touching.

Be Kind Rewind’s premise is that an entire video store of VHS tapes has been ruined. Erased. And in order to keep the business afloat, a couple of guys take a camera and start remaking the movies. In order to fool the customers, they think.

What happens, though, is that people enjoy the remakes for what they are. They become very popular. They see the power of what they’re doing, and they start offering their customers a part in the process.

This is where it gets touching. This is where the true story is. The heart of the film isn’t a group of zany antics and goofy spoofs. Be Kind Rewind is about inclusion, about being a part of the scene. About not settling for what the biggest entities give you – about carving out your own little niche.

It’s what strikes all of those who strive to be creative, who embrace an art form and want to make it theirs. They want to be part of the fun. They don’t just want to watch movies –they want to be in them. To see them as real. To influence the direction, to cater to themselves and people like them.

It’s what has led to the blossoming of user-generated content. Blogs allow those of us who love reading the published word to become published. Just as video cameras allowed us to make our own films, just as affordable cameras allowed us to become photographers.

Because at one point, it was impossible to be part of the scene without extraordinary talent, without the right connections and knowledge and schooling and tools. Over time, the line between production and audience has blurred. To the detriment of the art, I’m sure some would say. To the benefit of everyone involved, I’d argue.

In the end, we all want to be included. We have the urge to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a desire that wrenches our guts, that leaves us wanting, grasping for a place. Most of us would gladly do it without much credit, without much notice.

We’d know. That for one moment, we could touch the silver screen. For one moment, we could smell the chemicals from the dark room, the dust from the printing press, the sounds of the editing room. We could make our mark, be noticed, leave a legacy, leave anything.

That’s community. Everyone involved. At once. In harmony. Included in the process. Amazed by the product.

This was lovingly handwritten on July 28th, 2008