A friend of mine, Frank, recently tagged me on facebook in a post that said this was the "BEST video EVER."
Before I was able to view the video, a bunch of other people commented about how incredible it was, how much they loved it, etc.
Now Frank is not a dumb girl; she got a degree at the Cleveland Institute of Art and is now in Chicago, getting another Bachelor's degree and working her tail off in a variety of jobs. She also has incredible tattoos and showed me how to adjust my sewing machine and make incredible shirts. She has excellent taste, generally, so I appreciate her opinion on things. I wondered, though, whether this was actually the best video ever? I mean, seriously...EVER?
So I decided to do a comparison. I watched that video over again and tried to absorb its essence, to really understand it, to observe all of the subtle nuances and special things that she might have observed and I might have missed. (I'm a mere Sandwich Scientist, after all, not an artist.) Then I started doing comparisons.
First, I watched this, or tried to:
This is a popular video - at the time of writing it had garnered 5,100,488 views, which is not insubstantial. However, the gravitas of the cat in its meaningless motorized meanderings does not nearly make up for the fact that it is still a cat, on a Roomba, sitting down; if it has been viewed that many times, people have spent a total of 163,215 hours watching a cat sitting on a vacuum cleaner.
Newly disgusted with the unwashed peasant masses, and believing more and more that Frank might be right, I decided to compare her video with this one:
Incredible. The sheer joy of activity, the clear chemistry, the single perspective - this, my friends, is a great video.
But at the same time, while the cat video addresses a deep existential dilemma in modern society, this video seems to exist solely to make people smile and rejoice in the joy of life. It could, of course, be a commentary on our society - that the majority of people stand around, clapping, while others - perhaps, as the dog symbolizes, entities or animals without real consciousness - dance for their amusement. Is it better than the first? It is better than the cat, but not better than R. Kelly, at least from a philosophical perspective.
So I watched this:
Case closed. While I have no objective opinion and would never say that The Seventh Seal is the best video ever, it is clear that it is far, far ahead of the first video in virtually every way save for diversity, and thus far, far ahead of the other two videos as well. The ruminations on the transitory nature of life, the striking cinematography, the character development, the plot lines - all of these speak of genius.
What does this tell me about Frank, and about our society? Well, first, in order for someone to name something the "best (INSERT OBJECT) ever," it presupposes that that person has some knowledge of every competing object that has existed and has the ability to objectively judge the object in question. Here, I assumed this based on Frank's credentials and curious grammatical choices. I said to myself, "Wow, if Frank says this is the 'BEST video EVER,' that means she has seen everything else there is to see and is has the ability to be impartial about them - just as if someone says, 'this is the BEST Italian food EVER,' I think to myself, 'They did not say that it's the best Italian food they've ever had, which would be a subjective opinion that I would believe, so that person must be really old, because Italian food has been around for millennia, doesn't always have a long shelf life, and it doesn't travel well, so for them to have a comprehensive knowledge of Italian food is truly incredible. I want to know more." This, clearly, is a failure on my part. I should not be so trusting when someone says they had the "best Thai food ever," or the "best massage ever," or the "best sailboat race across Lake Erie ever." Instead, I should be skeptical and ask them what made it the best, and whether they really mean "ever."
So then I started to question what else she'd told me about her opinions of things.
I started to question her judgment.
I started to wonder if we were really friends.
Then I thought, "That's silly - we're friends on Facebook, so of course we're friends."
Also, the burger at Hodge's is really good - perhaps the best ever, although I am in no position to offer such an opinion.
“I see a man taking a break in his highly structured life, reading a newspaper in the park, or a young man sitting on a curb eating a sandwich and reading a book, taking the moment for himself. I celebrate these moments in bronze.” J. Steward Johnson, Jr.