Everyone's a Critic

The following video contains language that may be considered offensive by some.

July 27, 2010

I didn’t go to film school. Instead I went to liberal arts school and self-imposed a curriculum of creating tiny flawed video sketches, brief meditations on comic conundrums, and slapping them on the Internet. Messages in a bottle—maybe some like-minded individuals would respond and leave a comment that said, "You're just like Sarah Silverman," because that's mostly what people say to females peddling funny. Maybe potential employers would Google me and then deny me secretarial positions upon graduation.

The world was my oyster!

What I didn’t expect was to have a video go viral. Much like AIDS, it’s something that only happens to other people. You know, obese seven year olds who steal their grandmas’ cars, dudes brave enough to get kicked in the nuts again and again. But YouTube had anointed a vaguely sexual, utterly awkward performance clip of mine as their featured video of the day and suddenly it had almost two million hits. One night I returned from dinner to find my inbox full of, no joke, five thousand new emails, all alerting me to the comments on the video, which I’d posted months earlier to very little fanfare.

The video was one that depicted me in a bikini taking a bath in the public fountain at Oberlin College, where I went to school. I conceived it as some pseudo-performance-art-parody response to La Dolce Vita, a movie I hadn’t even seen. It was all sort of Jackass-y and fun. I anticipated a few comments from YouTubers saying things like “This is mad boring,” or ”Get a life, dork.” But what I got was a 15,000-comment-long debate about whether or not I am fat.

There seemed to be two major opinions on the subject. Some people thought I was, indeed, fat (let’s call these folks the Fat Camp). Others thought I wasn’t really that fat. Some people just wanted facts: “Just because the average is obese doesn’t make it right! Could the woman in the video please post her height and weight?” A few helpful souls suggested I lose fifty pounds and then get into the fountain (as if being 95 pounds would make this video-art abortion acceptable). My main embarrassment wasn’t with my unacceptable figure. It was with the fact that I didn’t think the piece was very good. I removed the video a few days later. “Don’t let the terrorists win!” my friend Teddy pleaded, but I’d made my mind up.

My goal right now is to tell finely wrought stories about messy girls. My heroines have a lot of issues, but none of them would be solved by “losing some weight before working again” (comment from username Emptyna).

1.Robin Bonta
July 27, 2010 9:28 AM
I didn't see the video as I don't spend much time on YouTube but it sounds like you did the right thing to remove the video if the main topic of discussion was your weight. Amazing that people don't have anything else to do with their own lives than obsess about a stranger's weight. Glad to hear that you are going for a deeper topic that hopefully won't be so shallowly received!!

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