Barack Obama is good at many things, but he still has some work to do on Vine. On the day the White House debuted their new account on the 6-second “micro-video” platform, they posted this video of the President riding a bike-powered water filtration system.
You call that a Vine? Where’s the drama? Where’s the sound? Where’s the conflict? Where’s the heart?!? This is attempting to utilize Vine as basically a picture-taking app that moves. But it can be so much more. Shooting Obama on the bike from the same angle, but with needless jump cuts, does nothing to enhance my appreciation for how this unit works, and not asking him to say anything while he’s riding, or react to the invention, removes any hope for actual context.
In fact, a still photo of the President on this bike would communicate just as much about how it works and what it’s like attending the White House Science Fair. As well, a full YouTube video of the event would probably provide a lot more useful, interesting information about this device and how it works. This Vine is stuck somewhere in between – maybe a tantalizing glimpse of something interesting, but no more.
Now, BuzzFeed will tell you that actor/director Adam Goldberg is winning at Vine, but I’m not convinced. He’s using the service to create peculiar, often surreal short films. (His bio on the app reads “Un Shawn and a Lou,” a play on Buñuel and Dali’s infamous surrealist short.) Sure, these mini-movies all fit within Vine’s 6 second time limit, but there’s no real compelling reason they couldn’t be longer and just appear on YouTube.
Plus, as Goldberg himself notes, they can be a bit obscure and pretentious.
Clever, maybe. But not Vine at its most essential, fresh and, above-all, shareable.
The President – and anyone else on Vine – should really be taking notes from comedian and impressionist Will Sasso. Some of Sasso’s best Vines – including a collection that finds him repeatedly spitting up whole lemons, or another series in which he drives around doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impression – can be found on YouTube, but they’re really designed to be seen in real-time, as they are posted, to the Vine platform.
Which is really the whole point – the best Vines are ones that are specifically made to be Vines, not other kinds of videos or self-promotion that could be just as easily uploaded elsewhere.
Just as Twitter asks us to condense ideas, updates and jokes into the most essential words, Vine forces videographers to just pick the most essential moments to be entertaining or tell a story. The best Vine videos don’t just communicate quickly, but manipulate time and space to communicate ideas – or tell jokes – faster than would be possible on any other platform.
Back to Will Sasso, arguably the first celebrity to truly crack Vine (though respect must be given as well to Riff Raff’s contributions to the genre.)
Sasso’s content is not simply an ideal self-contained Vine video, but a series of Vines that build – and pay off with more laughter – when taken as a whole.
Take his series “Arnold Schwarzenegger Driving.” If you watch them chronologically, you pick up actual plot threads over time.
First, Arnold mocks this odd van-truck hybrid:
Then he spots the same vehicle again:
Arnold’s love of Neil Diamond is yet another running gag:
Now the Vines become something of a running joke. You can watch them individually, but just like a great TV series, you’ll appreciate MORE of what you’re seeing if you know what has come before.
Also, note that Sasso’s Vines are shot as they are meant to be, as part of his everyday life. He’s doing the Schwarzenegger impressions while really driving around in his car. He’s getting his real-life friend, comedian Steve Agee, to play along.
He’s in his own bed, unable to go to slip amidst harassment from Hulk Hogan…
Through these fictional sketches, Sasso’s integrating an original comic idea (“what if Arnold Schwarzenegger was using vine while driving?”) with an intimate glimpse into his own life. We’re actually getting to know something about the life of Will Sasso while hearing the joke.
So, Mr. President… Barry… (can I call you Barry?)… that ought to give you something to chew on. Feel free to give me a ring if you want some more Vine tips. Just don’t mention lemons.