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Tim Wilson: Unexpect the expected

Tim Wilson

By Tim Wilson

Published: 3:53PM Thursday April 26, 2012

After a while, like all eclairs, all internet videos start to look the same.

If there's a bear walking up a suburban street, you almost know that some doughboy with his nose in a cell phone will appear, meandering in the opposite direction. If someone flies on wings he claims he made himself, the camera can be proved - once again - to have lied. Dogs do funny stuff, so do cats. Frogs sit like slimy buddhas on the steps. You know the drill, kids, and so do I.

What - in my humble estimation as Procrastination Reporter of a few weeks service - really works, what really startles, are those events which are truly unexpected. Man runs toward a banana peel, but is intercepted by a shark that has fallen out of a 16th floor window. That kind of deal. So if we see someone walking down a street in a Chinese city, preoccupied with their phone conversation, then we might expect a car to run into them. Or a rickshaw. Or perhaps a group of workers protesting conditions in Apple factories.

What does happen is this, and it makes me not worry at all about the supposed Chinese takeover of the world that many are bleating about. I mean, New Zealand may not be a global super-power-in-waiting, but at least our footpaths work.

A similar defeating of expectations takes place in the next bit of footage. Nice thing is promised. Nice thing appears. The response? Well, let's just say that WC Fields, the American comedian who believed that children should be neither seen nor heard, would have been immensely gratified.

Another way of destroying our expectations is to change tempo. Young men like smashing stuff up. They've done so since the invention of testosterone. Typically destruction is Hobbesian: nasty, brutish and short. How do you make it more visually appealing? Slow motion. Suddenly, destruction isn't horrid, it's pretty. And that's what the Danish show, Dumt og farligt does. Full paint tins, birthday cakes, eggs, pretty much everything you can imagine gets pulverised, detonated and smasheroo-ed. It's beautiful because it's time consuming. Also, the colours are immense. Who but the most confirmed arsonist would have believed flames could dance so enticingly?

Yet they do. Persist with this video, watch it to the end; it has an artistic quality. The scene of burning flour feels almost sacramental, and belies the translation of that Danish name; Dumt og farligt means, "Stupid and Dangerous". They forgot 'subversive'.

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