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Me @ The Zoo: Film Review

Robert Kyncl

The Bottom Line

The creepy side of YouTube gets its 15 minutes of fame, with a flamboyant, egocentric teen smitten by Britney Spears.

Directors

Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch

Producers

Nicholas Shumaker, Jack Turner, Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch

In this astute documentary, filmmakers Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch center on a teen-aged, gay Tennessee rube, Chris Crocker, whose outlandish postings and declarations of admiration for Britney Spears on YouTube have turned him into an Internet celebrity.

Park City - Thomas Edison's production of Fred Ott's Sneeze won film fame over one-hundred years ago as people were enthralled about what the new medium had to offer – a goofy looking guy sneezing. Roughly 100 years later, with the spawning of YouTube in 2005, we've traveled aesthetically, well, to the same spot. We're enthralled by the same sort of low-brow novelty that captivated folks over a hundred years ago, only now its ubiquitous on the limitless cyber-canvas of YouTube.

The title, Me@The Zoo_ comes from the first YouTube posting in 2005, which garnered 6.6 million views and begot the social phenomenon. “Me” is a fitting first word for the maiden YouTube posting for it could be denigrated as the “Me” site. Indeed, in this documentary narcissism and voyeurism are shown to be strong human components that explain many of its postings and their allure.

YouTube has been called “the billion-eyed beast.” Weird, crazy stuff gets posted on YouTube which spawns bizarre appendages. Not surprisingly, it could be called PoseurTube.

In this astute documentary, filmmakers Chris Moukarbel and Valerie Veatch center on a teen-aged, gay Tennessee rube, Chris Crocker, whose outlandish postings and declarations of admiration for Britney Spears on YouTube have turned him into an Internet celebrity.

Smeared with garish make-up and his hair bleached blond, he's kind of neo-Ziggy Stardust, without the talent. Or, the “talent” of Andy Warhol. Still, Crocker certainly knows how to exploit the new medium. While shrill, most of Crocker's postings are vapid, or, well, a load of crock, especially when he announces that whatever Britney is doing is far more significant than 9/11.

Nevertheless, Crocker gets his 15-minutes of fame, a reality show pilot and Google checks. Since Chris' drooling about Britney soon grates, filmmakers Moukarbel and Veatch sagely intercut with other YouTube big-hitters: a fat woman sitting on the toilet and singing about it.

Brevity is not a virtue that anyone will hurl at the film: It is initially fascinating but soon wallows in what's-his-name's 15-minutes of fame. Coincidentally, 15 minutes is what the average YouTuber spends on the site each day.

section: U.S. Documentary Competition
Bottom line: The creepy side of YouTube, with a flamboyant, egocentric teen smitten by Brittney Spears.
Production company: C-Hundred Film Corp.
Directors: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch
Producers: Nicholas Shumaker, Jack Turner, Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch
Directors of photography: Chris Crocker, Wolfgang Held, Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch
Editors: Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch
Music: Nico Muhly
No rating, 90 minutes.