Saturday, October 15, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame - Not This Time Thanks



A producer from Caught on Camera — what looks like a popular show put on by MSNBC contacted me recently to inquire about the footage I shot from my back yard just over a year ago of the San Bruno Disaster. I thought he was interested in licensing the footage but then he asked if I would talk about my experience of filming the days events that I caught it on camera — ON CAMERA (with his crew). So, just to make this very clear — I caught a tragedy on camera, so his crew wants to catch me on camera talking about what I caught on camera — it certainly offers one more example of the feedback loop in media. To further the feedback loop I should have offered to catch on camera, the MSNBC crew catching me on Camera, because I caught a horrific event on camera.....

Instead I said, what angle are you telling the story from? The MSNBC producer paused for a beat, then made some pleasant remarks and the whole filming ordeal sounded quite breezy and noble and grand. Trying to be a pleaser I said, OK. Behind that OK I thought, well, what the hell, he's got fireman, local folks and a reporter who all agreed to be in the segment he's shooting. How bad can it be?

An immediate sense of dread hit me.

I then went and watched a segment from the show available online called "Fury," and it went something like this:

Enter young man who caught an event on camera (who happens to be a filmmaker and happens to have a mild daze in his eyes that says, YES I am ON CAMERA how cool is this!!)and he says something like: So my friends recommended this great restaurant and we went there and it was a really good time! Then he noticed an argument that he could tell was about to escalate so he took out his phone and started recording.

We viewers then enjoy some shaky low resolution footage of a fight about to break. (And then comes that litttle voice in your head, Fight, FiGHT, FIGHT)

cut to comment from restaurant manager: we found the two guests to be beligerent and using language that was not appropriate!

cut to: an entertaining scene where a fight breaks out and fists, chairs, as well as barricades become weapons of hurt!!

There is an admitted thrill to watching this material, its raw quality offers a satisfying appeal to the inner voyeur. I flipped to another segment called "Crash"and found myself enjoying as truck after truck drove under a bridge too low for their dimensions and found their tops peeled off much like a can is opened by a can opener.

I knew then I could not be a part of this show.

Still I agonized. Am I missing the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol proclaimed we will all be granted in this modern media age? Why don't I want to be on this show? If I put it in pure marketing terms, it doesn't fit my brand. If I put it in new age terms: I DO believe media is a feedback loop, what we put out influences thought, and THUS what is put in, and if we begin broadcasting media with heart and love and presence,  we may find the world subtly and artfully changing. If I put it in terms I emailed to the producer: I don't want to draw attention to myself. Yet, that's not exactly true. I don't mind if some of my friends notice I did something with all my heart and succeeded or failed, but I do mind if my friends attach me to a show that focuses on the outrageous, violence, disaster, etc... No no no thankyou.

Sitll I had to think about it. Which led me to further imagine, what exactly is my media policy for myself? If Fox News asked me on, do I say yes or no?   If Oprah asked me on, do I say yes or no? (YESSSSSS! Oprah, any time, any day)  Shouldn't I have a media policy? Please also allow me to acknowledge the complete presumptuous egocentricity of this thought process, still, I don't want to blow my 15 minutes of fame on any old raggy show. (Sorry MSNBC, but really! We can all do better!)

So this time I'll say no to my 15 minutes of disaster fame (why did I even consider it?), still...Oprah, anytime you want to call I'm ready, I have some really cool colleagues and friends I want to introduce you to who are doing amazing work.... and I'm a small part of that movement.... ring anytime! DO!