“Films” for R.E.M.’s Collapse Into Now

discover film still

Film still, Discover, R.E.M., Directed by Michael Stipe and Lynda Stipe

I heard this excellent interview with Michael Stipe on Studio 360 and found myself laughing-with-him-not-at-him (although Stipe himself was, as always, very serious about this) when Stipe corrected Kurt Andersen in regards to the YouTube videos made for Collapse Into Now. In Stipe’s mind, these are “films,” not videos. In a way, this makes sense. R.E.M. commissioned a variety of film directors to create a video for each track on the album. But at the same time, the video/films were made for distribution via YouTube. Music videos and the MTV that I grew up with is lost to The Real World and Jersey Shore. Despite the absence of music videos on MTV or the marketing value associated with them, Stipe wanted to collaborate with filmmakers to produce videos, nay, films for the new album.

I just have a hard time calling anything made-for-YouTube, or at least, viewed mostly on YouTube, “films.” And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. These video/films are fantastic. I can’t believe that the quality of the media is necessarily stifled by the word I use to describe them or, more importantly, where I end up viewing the work. Anyhow, I respect the band and Stipe, in particular, too much to argue much more than this. The film made for Discover is an excellent example of expressive type in motion. And even though it was made for YouTube for a 2011 R.E.M. album, something about it reminds me of the Green days. For the first time ever I want to say, without irony or sarcasm: I want my MTV (back)!

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