I gathered acquaintances, friends both casual and close, paired them randomly, put them in a void, and asked them to hit each other in the face. No one was pressured, and everyone was hit as hard as THEY asked to be hit. To go beyond the parody for the full story of what happened, be sure to watch Point of Impact.
Song is "We Might Be Dead By Tomorrow" by Soko, used with artist's permission. You can find the song here. ********itunes.apple****/us/album/we-might-be-dead-by-tomorrow/id593171668?i=593171836
This is not a marketing campaign, just me and my friends being real, real dumb.
Follow Max at uptomyknees and the Content Monsters at *******www.youtube****/thecontentmonsters
What started out as kind of a parody ended up something much more interesting. Read on for my full thoughts.
I recognized immediately the problem: it would be dismissed as an imitation.
Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Several months ago, I discovered a white studio space on the edge of Los Angeles. The idea occured to me instantly to shoot something there, but what? A sequel to my minorly viral series of Superman videos? A music video? The blank white space stretched out before me and I clutched my beer and squinted my eyes and found myself thinking of something that felt unbelievably obvious:
I should get my friends to hit each other in the face.
The Kiss video had come and gone, and with it a huge legion of parodies of varying quality and intelligence. There was a sense of diminishing returns, one that set on with that inimitable quickness of the internet, an invention that seems to have given the entire world ADHD. The reception was initially warm, but after the truth of The Kiss video's commercial origins were made known, a certain cynicism had set in about that momentarily beloved piece of film making.
To me, I was cynical from the start.
The Kiss video is beautiful, but it doesn't ask a big question. The "question" of the video seems to be "Do you want to kiss a sexy person who conforms to your preestablished sexual interests?" The answer, I would assume for most everyone, is "yes, I would like that very much, that sounds like it would get me all horned up."
So what's the more interesting question? There've been a lot of imitators with variations on the original; I admit I haven't watched most of them. The majority were either fake for "internet comedy" or asked an even less interesting question, like "What if it were a REAL (meaning widely considered ugly) person?" "Will these straight people hug these gay people?" Stuff like that, usually loaded with false, contrived sincerity, something I find repellent.
Sexuality wasn't interesting enough. Too vague, too easy. There was the white space though. So...Violence. Sexuality, no. Violence on the other hand...
What is violence? It's really just a label, isn't it, if you let your mind go to a dark place. I decided to define violence as "nonconsensual physical interference;" wordy I know, but it lent itself to a wider idea. Something as simple as someone grabbing your butt or hugging you a little too long or too tight can feel violent; granted, not as painful as a knife to the gut or a bullet to the head, but still, violent.
But what if we took the non-consensual part out of it? What if you agreed, in some small way, to a measure of pain, and in doing so, earned the opportunity to inflict a little of your own, free of consequence, divorced from the more traditional contexts of a fight or anger or rough sex, and hit someone in the face?
What is trust? Do you trust someone not to hurt you? Are you even thinking about it?
Do you care if they hurt you if you trust them? I started asking all kinds of questions. I went totally up my own ass with this. What does trust have more to do with, logic or fun? How much fun is it to trust someone, versus how logical it is to trust them, to hit you in the face and be hit by you in the face?
Granted, it's just a stupid internet video, but what isn't, these days? I had a theory: if we let people slap each other, most of them, after the initial hit, will start testing each other and themselves, playing with their own boundaries. Maybe not every time, ut some timess. Most times. The theory was: people will want to do it more than once. The theory was: in this bizarre scenario, a slap won't be a slap. It'll become a different type of physical exchange.
The theory was: A slap, robbed of its violating context, is more intimate than a kiss.
My theory, as it turned out, was right, which was fun, and gratifying. But intellectual gratification is, to me, secondary to the visceral feeling that came from hitting, being hit, and better yet, watching everybody hit each other. I saw the strangest mutations of intimacy, and trust, in that empty void.
Everything you see on camera is real and spontaneous.
For more of this barely eloquent oddness, follow uptomyknees
Song: Stardust by Mika