Think of me as the Prophet

“Ain’t like I was ever Alfred Hitchcock or somethin. You can watch my stuff till you’re cross-eyed and there’ll never be any deeper meaning. I see something interesting, I shoot it is all. Future of film if you want to know-someday, more bandwidth, more video files up on the Internet, everybody’ll be shootin everything, way too much to look at, nothin will mean shit. Think of me as the prophet of that.” (Bleeding Edge, 143)

This quote, spoken by Reg Despard, a documentary film maker, portrays the much larger themes present in Thomas Pynchon’s novel. While the novel takes place in the beginnings of 2001, it was published in September of 2013, after the advent of Facebook, Youtube, and the rest of social media. I feel that Thomas Pynchon is arguing that the current state of social media and the internet has created a sphere of influence that is slowly diminishing until it no longer has a cultural presence. However, I argue that in contrast, that the current state of social media, with “so many video files up on the Internet, everybody’ll be shootin everything” will mean much more than nothing. I argue that with such an over saturation of recorded video being posted online will create an environment in which that every event has a chance of being shared online, nullifying the significance of the individual video but magnifying the significance of social media as a whole.

I agree with Thomas Pynchon’s assessment of the influx of video clips and will diminish the individual value of each video, however, putting all of the videos together will create a control system that has value much greater than the individual video. The individual video loses value, but when multiple videos work together, they can cause a much bigger disturbance. Such instances of this are can be seen with the revolution in Egypt in 2011. While not caused by social media, it was facilitated by it, allowing revolutionaries to organize quickly and efficiently. There was no individual video or post that helped the revolution, but the influx of such a large number of posts and videos that were the main factors. Even more currently and within the United States with racial profiling. A single video of an African American doesn’t cause too much disturbance in the social norm in America, but when several hundred videos are posted, people begin to notice a trend and begin to take a stance on the situation.

In addition to that, with so many people’s attempt for internet fame, just about every instance of their lives are recorded and published to the internet. This creates a control system such that nearly every instance of everyone’s life is recorded and published online. This changes the future of film from a quality of individual film point of view to a quantity of film point of view, such that if enough film is recorded that eventually an important event will be recorded. This is an over saturation of Thomas Pynchon’s idea that there will be a surplus of videos being posted to the internet, creating a culture of uselessness for these videos. However, just with the analogy of one thousand monkeys with typewriters, with nearly every citizen recording their daily life and posting it online, eventually an actual significant event will be recorded and shared to everyone online. Thusly, Thomas Pynchon’s argument that the oversaturation of videos to social media will discredit the value of online media is false and that it is the sheer number of videos being posted online that give it the influence over the typical citizen that it currently has.

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3 Responses to Think of me as the Prophet

  1. rivaiheichou says:

    I can see both sides to the argument posed by “…more video files up on the Internet, everybody’ll be shootin everything, way too much to look at, nothin will mean shit,” both the book’s side and your argument against that. However, I must say that I agree with Reg’s argument.. With a plethora of videos that are uploaded on a daily basis to YouTube, Vimeo, and other video websites, and the way that more popular videos are brought to a larger public audience quicker than a freshly-uploaded video, the unpopular ones form a mire to wade through, filtering out the good from the bad. It is the “good” (or at least popular) videos that survive while others get left in the dust.

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  2. spelunkingseahorse says:

    I definitely agree that social media has the ability to make a huge impact on society now with its reach and accessibility. Every video that is uploaded to the internet has the possibility of becoming the next viral video if all of the stars align perfectly. Then there is that power of quantity that you were referring to. Now that almost all people are carrying a camera in their pocket at all times, it is possible to catch a lot more video than it was in 2001. I do agree with your point but it is almost scary to think where we will be in another 14 years with regards to technology.

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  3. You’re absolutely correct to link this significant passage to larger trends in culture that Pynchon is thinking about, but I wonder how you might extend your thinking here to make an argument about the novel.

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