A new satirical website called Stuff White People Like has earned three million visits in the last ten days by offering dead-on deadpan analyses of status symbols among the under-40 upper middle class. Listed along with such de rigueur affectations of the more-sensitive-than-thou set as "Apple Products," "Threatening to Move to Canada," and "Barack Obama," is "Michel Gondry," the French director of Bjork's music videos and "such white classics as 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.'"
Christian Lander, who masterminds the site, helpfully advises:
"[Mentioning Gondry] can be used to help find common ground with white people. Talk about how you wanted to direct music videos after you saw Michel Gondry’s video for “Around the World” by Daft Punk. Then make a joke about how foolish you were at that age and everyone will have a good laugh. But they will also feel your pain about sacrificing your artistic dreams."
Like much of the stuff white people like, there is something to be said for the ingenious and ingenuous Gondry, whose video autobiography is aptly entitled "I've Been 12 Forever." His twee trademarks are childlike sets and props that he might have made out of cardboard and other junk he found in his dad's garage. Indeed, I found Gondry's surrealist comedy "The Science of Sleep," with Gael García Bernal as a boyish graphics designer who can't tell his waking and dreaming lives apart, the most delightful movie of 2006.
Yet, while Apple can charge $800 extra for a laptop, movie tickets all cost about the same, so having a small upscale fan base doesn't do much financially for Gondry. To escape the status-striver's ghetto and connect with the American mass market, Gondry is recycling the do-it-yourself aesthetic of "Science" in "Be Kind Rewind." It stars part-time heavy metal singer Jack Black and part-time rapper Mos Def. Unfortunately, although not surprisingly, American lunkheadedness and French condescension make an ineffectual combination.
March 1, 2008
An excerpt from my review of "Be Kind Rewind" in the new American Conservative: