The bloggingheads format presents us with relatively intimate medium close-ups of two faces, side by side, as though of two people in a conference call. We ourselves, however, cannot participate. The two speakers appear to be looking directly at us, but are in fact looking at each other. They will be discussing matters presumably of some public or general interest, but the camera remains fixed on their faces – a static, almost always ill-lit, low quality shot – while, to the extent either face conveys what a countenance conveys, the visual information will be largely irrelevant to that public or general interest, and minimally communicative even within the immediate context. In short, unless you happen to be the proud parent or yearning lover of one of the two individuals in closed dialogue, the video element of the presentation will cease being interesting within seconds, under a constant implication that even the smallest amount of the most primitive editing or camera movement would radically relieve the visual tedium and quite possibly enhance the content: The only reason that there is no alternation between the two faces, are no additional angles on the speakers, no zooms in or out, no exhibits introduced by interpolation, overlay, or inset, or as point of view, and so on, is that the bloggingheads form is a lazily narcissistic and cinematically completely naive mode of presentation. The idea of someone treating the product, even if not quite seriously, then with any significant attention, is apparently out of bounds. As for the verbal content, a different order of defects are involved, possibly originating in the widely held but largely false democratic assumption that everyone has something interesting to say. The rarity of references or citations to internet video chats seems suggestive, even if there are no doubt many users who prefer off-the-cuff audio to literature, or hearing to reading. If I were planning a long drive or a day of housework, say, I’d much rather listen to music or an audiobook.
(These notes are a treatment of mostly old thinking – somewhere I have additional notes on the subject and more specific suggestions on cinematizing internet dialogues, since it was a major subject of that fallen-through movie project of 2011 – was prompted today by tweets from Elias Isquith and Lee M.)