Browsing on YouTube I click play and a video begins showing pretty hipster girls gazing longingly at the camera. They are dancing with boys with long hair and handsome beards, all of them bathed in the golden light of youth and optimism. The day is almost over and they are dancing their hearts out. In Dolores Park, on rooftops and in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, this is young San Francisco remaking shot for shot an homage to an homage, a copy of a copy. They really mean this and they really are this pretty.
This video is part of an intriguing phenomena of call and response video’s posted on YouTube in homage to the fan video, “the brat pack mash up” which was first posted in the spring of 2009.
The original video, composed of various edited scenes mostly taken from the movies of John Hughes, ‘mashed up’ with the song, ‘Lisztomania’ by French pop group Phoenix inspired a group of twenty something friends in Brooklyn to remake it shot for shot with their beautiful peers.
Exquisitely filmed on top of a roof top, this video is the epitome of what we imagine being twenty and pretty, and lets face it, privileged, looks like. This video in turn has spawned at least 10 other iterations including the San Francisco one described above. What I find most interesting about these particular remakes is that they are not referencing the “original” video, which has subsequently been removed, but instead are engaged in a conversation with each other. With each new post a vocabulary of youthful exuberance and shared cultural experience is being constructed, one richer for the areas where the mimeses begins to crumble and we see how these groups are different rather than the same.
What does it mean then to remake the remake? A copy of a copy? We seem to be in the decade of the ‘re’, the reenactment (Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave and Alison Smith’s The Muster), the remakes (Star Trek and Tron,), the remix, the mash up, (dj earworm). Wanting to know more I caught up with the creator of the San Francisco ‘remake’, in the mission this week to talk over coffee. Eugene Cheung is an engaging and intelligent young man and like so many of the California twenty something’s I have met in San Francisco he is disarmingly positive and sincere. So much so that when we talk about his motives for putting this video out in the world, I really believe him.
Cheung is a young filmmaker with a day job that pays the bills and a solid career on the side as part of the collective Yours Truly co-founded by Will Abramson,Nate Chan and Babak Khoshnoud. Yours Truly creates band videos for venues like pitchfork TV and showcases young San Francisco talent on their website http://yourstru.ly/. Chueng’s videos are achingly beautiful, imbued with a kind of youthful ennui. On viewing them I am struck by the aesthetic of melancholia that seems to permeate so much of the work of his generation. Gone is the anger of punk and in its place is the soft dreamy light of the waning sun, it’s as though these kids sense the last days of summer – freedom – are upon them.
Cheung and I delve into his process over iced coffee, the process itself being a Meta reveal of the 2.0-ness of his generation. He tells me working with his friend Shelley Beaumonte he garnered the people in the video from his Google music group and when not enough people showed up for the first day of shooting he simply edited a rough cut and posted that back to the group so that everyone could see what they were missing. The next day 20 new people contacted him wanting to get involved. This collaborative impulse, which seems so naturalized within generation ‘Y’, and has been the subject of so much contemporary writing by art historians and theorists, seems to be absolutely integral to what is at the core of these multiple remakes.