Like you, I was just ruminating about the movie Man On the Moon, in which Jim Carrey plays entertainer Andy Kaufman. After seeing that movie, I became a fan of Kaufman because, let’s face it, sometimes the medium can use a good mockery — and Andy played ’em like a foo. I know that the film isn’t an actual documentary per se (thankfully, Michael Moore isn’t even a Key Grip), but it does tell a true story about a real person and actual events, a few of which were caught on film and then re-made in the 1999 movie. Even if you haven’t seen Man On The Moon in particular, I’m sure you know what I mean.
My progression of thought went like this:
- I sure do like that movie, especially because they did such a good job of remaking scenes like the 1975 debut of Saturday Night Live where Andy Kaufman lip sync’d to Mighty Mouse.
- There are other scenes that they remade that I would love to see the actual footage.
- Too bad YouTube and Flips weren’t around when Kaufman was around, otherwise we could all see pretty much everything in the movie — for example, an original act involving Tony Clifton.
- Heeeeey…. wait a minute. Now YouTube is around!
- Heeeeeeeyyy…. wait a minute. Since YouTube and sites like Vimeo are uploaded to by probably millions of users, thereby documenting everything…
- Heeeeeyyyyy…. that Cat just sprayed the UPS guy!
- Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, I guess I’m wondering now if we need documentaries since everything is being documented and uploaded like never before, instantly available to nearly everyone everywhere and for all time, amen.
A good documentary involves 1) footage I don’t have at my fingertips and 2) logical sequence and 3) accuracy. Since we already have 1 — seemingly limitless supplies of 1, no less — then the new documentaries will feature less footage and more guided tours. Maybe documentaries won’t be in sequential film order anymore but rather a digital historian who points you to the right links. In some ways, this is WikiPedia, but in other ways, especially as it pertains to accuracy, it’s not.
We won’t need footage. There will no longer be a shortage of information. The ache will be for someone to sort it out and highlight the highlitables, and, more importantly, to help us ignore the ignorables.
Ha! Looks like that old cat doesn’t like the Postal Service, either!
R. Adam Davidson is a blogger who daily surveys his 1/3 acre in Spring Arbor, Michigan.