Me @ the Zoo (2012) dir. Chris Moukarbel, Valerie Veatch
By Alan Bacchus
A decent cinematic essay about the YouTube effect, that is the new millennium speaker's corner of sorts, which has become the influential platform for online personal expression.
Few people have expressed themselves more dramatically than Chris Crocker, a celebrity-chasing Britney Spears addict, but also a repressed gay teen living in the bigoted hillbilly world of small town Tennessee. Being an outsider is an understatement for Crocker, who, with the creation of YouTube, found his mechanism for expression. His self-produced video rants have made him a sensation of sorts for the 15-minute famers that YouTube creates - specifically his Britney rant, which went viral in 2007.
Somehow Chris lasted longer than most, but as per Moukarbel and Veatch's thesis, he gets spit out and demolished just like his idol Britney Spears.
Using ample YouTube videos and other footage, Moukarbel and Veatch create a unique character study of Internet celebrity. Crocker comes off as a performer at heart but also deranged and delusional - the perfect personality for this kind of success.
But they also expose the fallacy of Internet stardom and the fact that people just don't want to pay for Crocker's act, which seems to work only in the confines of his own home. His failed attempt at a reality TV shows that his kind of fame comes from the creation of unaltered truth. While Crocker's YouTube success came from a place of honesty and passion, he was simply faking it for television.
Me @ the Zoo succeeds in telling the story of the YouTube phenomenon through the voice of one of its biggest stars in an effective and innovative manner.