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YouTube: Feeding the Obsessions
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
I recently got high-speed Internet (wireless!) so now I can feed an obsession in my own home. And that obsession is YouTube. Prior to getting Internet at home, I would hang out at places that offered free Wi-Fi, taking up valuable table space and probably getting on the nerves of restaurant servers. Now I can surf the Ďnet sitting on the toilet, if I so desire. I havenít done that yet. Surfing in bed seems so decadent.
Iíve encountered some weird stuff. Some of it cute, some of it disgusting. Parry Gripp keeps me smiling with videos made up of various clips of animals, combined with nonsensical but catchy tunes (ďFuzzy Fuzzy Cute CuteĒ, ďDramatic Chipmunk Hey!Ē). The icky stuff includes people squeezing pimples the size of Buicks. And I thought I had skin problems!
Then thereís the forbidden and the outright banned. Iím not talking about illegal porn or snuff films. Iím talking about Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story. Iíd heard about this, but totally forgot about itóuntil a few days ago. I did a YouTube search for the 70s singer, and Todd Hayneís banned, 43 minute film popped up. It creeps me out that I found this film almost 27 years to the day Carpenter died. I remember her passing, but forgot it was February 4, 1983.
The film was unique in the fact that the actors are Barbie and Ken dolls. Hayne supposedly spent months making the movie sets to scale, including props such as a fire extinguisher for one of Carpenterís dressing room, and miniature Ex-Lax boxes.
The film starts with a re-enactment of the discovery of Carpenterís body by her mother. The film gets right into the story by Carpenterís mother suggesting to Richard that Karen should join his group as a singer. Interspersed with the story are stock footage clips of the Vietnam war, the Holocaust, a short segment on Anorexia, and a woman throwing up.
Not surprisingly, the film was shut down by Richard Carpenter. An offer by Haynes to just show the film to clinics, with proceeds going to a charity, was rejected. Throughout the film, the Carpenterís music was used, but Haynes didnít get permission to use it. That, plus the fact that Haynes made Richard look like, well, a dick, didnít help matters any.
So what did I think of the film? It was creepy. CREEPY. Despite using Barbie and Ken dolls, thereís nothing of Barbieís pink, ďI want it now because I deserve itĒ fantasy life in this film. After a while, you forget that dolls are acting out the Carpenterís rise to fame and problems along the way (Richard was addicted to Quaaludes; itís hinted that Harold and Agnes, Karen and Richardís parents, were a little too controlling, especially Agnes.) An article in which the writer called Karen ďchubbyĒ set her off, and the die was cast. Haynes depicted Karenís anorexia in the movie by whittling down the doll used to portray her.
Iíve watched two copies of it on YouTube; the first one is the uncut 43 minute version; the other offers the film in five segments. The segmented version seems a little bit better quality-wise, but understand thatís a relative term here. The 43 minute version looks like it was filmed on toilet paper, but itís probably a billionth generation copy. The cease and desist order called for all copies of the film to be destroyed. The Museum of Modern Art has a copy, but agreed with the Carpenter estate not to show it, according to Wikipedia.
I donít know why Iím so obsessed with this film; maybe itís because Karen Carpenterís voice was the soundtrack to my early childhood. Maybe itís because at one point, I got a little obsessed with my weight, although never to the point where Iíd take laxatives or throw up. I guess itís also the mystery of anorexia; how someone can look in the mirror and see fat when itís obvious thereís nothing there except skin and bone. Maybe Iím also obsessed because I own a digicam and just made my first parody music video and looking for direction for future projects.
But amid the obsession, YouTube also offers some funny, not-so-disturbing things to watch, some of which I might tell you about. In the meantime, go watch ďFuzzy Fuzzy Cute CuteĒ, smile, and then grit your teeth as the tune stays put in your head for the rest of the day. Youíre welcome.