OK, I avoid YouTube and all those personal ad websites where people post streaming video of themselves about how they post streaming video of themselves and people look at them. It's all too too addictive and work-interfering. YouTube is pretty darn useful for finding any recent TV clip you've heard about but missed.
And then there's this. I was doing a search for an attack piece on John Edwards and happened to see this video listed on YouTube's main page. "Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out." It was more than 6 minutes long and I hesitated but then I thought, 'What the heck?' It had been played more than 1.5 million times already, far more than any of the other highlighted clips. There must be something to it.
The video begins. We watch women preparing for a wedding in a hotel room, talking to each other, opening champagne and looking pretty reasonable. Which one of them was going to freak out? But then the bride walks in and collapses on the floor in hysterics. She's just had a dreadful hair cut, all perm-y and ridiculous and she is distraught, to say the least. The bride is crying and screaming and freaking out and she rushes into the bathroom and soon, before anyone can stop her, she starts chopping away at her hair. The other women laugh or stand around in stunned disbelief or try to stop her but to no avail. The bride contines to chop away, only to stop and wail that it looks worse and screaming at the top of her voice and lashing out at her friends, wondering why they didn't stop her. Finally, she lunges for the camera and demands -- for the umpteenth time -- that they turn it off.
It is utterly and completely compelling. Is it staged? You always have to wonder with this sort of thing. The simplest explanation is that it's not staged, though if it is I would hire the filmmakers immediately -- the dramatic changes in mood, the subtle layering of emotions, the abrupt ending makes this short thoroughly convincing.
Assuming it isn't staged, the piece becomes even more compelling. The bride repeatedly demands the camera be turned off (and at one point it might have been but was soon turned back on) yet her request isn't respected until she finally physically lunges at the camera herself. Then there are the varied reactions of the bridesmaids. We hear giggles interspersed throughout the repeated pleas for the bride to calm down and let them deal with the hair and the claims that it "isn't that bad." At least twice, the camera pans away from the hysterical bride to show one bridesmaid with a wicked, sly smile on her face. Of course, the scene is funny in a horrifying way. But the bridesmaid doesn't seem to be smiling in spite of her best efforts. She seems to be truly enjoying herself. Is this the older sister who still isn't married while our bride has found her true love -- a quick bit of info we glean during the dramatics? Is she the one who suggests the haircut is sort of in, like Shirley Temple -- an example born out of desperation or possibly a desire to bring even more pain to the bride?
And that cunning bridesmaid isn't the only one taking glee in the bride's meltdown. There's also the bridesmaid holding the camera. Presumably, they had the camera to document the happy day. But when the bride comes in weeping and wailing, when she repeatedly asks for the camera to be turned off, the operator blithely ignores her. Does she think history demand she record this painful moment? Is she so inured to the need for privacy by MTV and reality TV that it simply doesn't occur to her that the bride has the RIGHT to privacy during a terrible moment on her wedding day?
And finally, there is the perplexing fact that we are watching all of this. Okay, the bride melted down. Her friends kept the camera rolling. Some of them -- out of nervousness or schaudenfreude or devious envy -- took pleasure in the nightmarish scenario of a bride getting a godawful haircut on her wedding day. Okay. But who put the video up on YouTube for all the world to see? The evil bridesmaid? The camera operator? Does the bride know this is online for all the world to see? Or is the posting the final, cruel act of one of the women taking perverse pleasure in their friend's disaster? Or perhaps someone else -- a brother or relative or boyfriend -- found the footage and posted it without their knowledge? Will the bride appear on Jay Leno in a week or two if the clip keeps viraling away? Will someone write a college thesis, breaking down the film's narrative and implications? Will it be optioned for a feature film? The mind boggles.