Do you realize that America’s Funniest Home Videos is currently in its 25th season? Well, it is. It’s on ABC, every Sunday evening. I didn’t know it was still on.
Someone who knows it’s still on are the geniuses behind Memory Hole, the most striking recent entry into the well-populated found-video universe. What Memory Hole does is, they take videos that did not make the cut to be on America’s Funniest Home Videos and they add creepy audio and abrupt edits (Actually, the videos aren’t 100% un-fucked-with, but the bulk of the effect comes from the addition of new audio and jarring cuts.) That recontextualization transforms videos submitted to a nationally televised “laff-riot” suitable for the broadest of audiences America has to offer, into an avant-garde commentary on the inherent strangeness of the American people.
As we reported in September, Memory Hole is what happens when the Everything Is Terrible found-video collective somehow obtains access to storage space containing a whopping 300,000 videos belonging to the producers of America’s Funniest Home Videos. The crazy thing that you realize is just how much footage is out there, countless thousands of people have been sending ABC their nutty little videos for a generation now—as well as some videos that aren’t so nutty. (For fear of legal action, I reckon, Commodore Gilgamesh, one of the found-video geniuses behind the site, is obliged to refer to his source material as coming from “the longest running prime-time television series in history,” which, apparently, it is.)
Some of the Memory Hole videos are single-take masterpieces, whereas others are compilations on a theme—few are longer than about a minute. Two of my favorites are “Is She Sleeping?” in which the game is to try to figure out if Grandma is dead or alive, and “Shaving Cream Torture,” in which ... well, you just have to see that one for yourself. Another fascinating one is “Body Horror,” which is a compilation of double-jointed-and-who-knows-what-else-what people showing off the quirks of their insane bodies.
The great thing is that, much as with Adult Swim’s Too Many Cooks, which Richard brought you yesterday—that’s a must-see—or Chris Elliott’s brilliant Action Family one-off from 1986, which I wrote about earlier this year, you realize that virtually anything can be made “funny” as long as you put some sprightly music nearby and pipe in a canned laughtrack. In that sense, the creepy music added by Memory Hole is helping expose the true nature of this ridiculous footage, in some cases.
It makes you realize how much America’s Funniest Home Videos actually was the YouTube of the 1990s. This is the most “Tim and Eric” thing I’ve seen in a while, and it was all done without manipulating video imagery (much), it’s done by manipulating audio, in the manner of one of my favorite fucked-with TV intros, the “creepy” version of the intro to Diff’rent Strokes. It’s a simple trick but it works wonders.
Two more Memory Hole videos after the jump…..