Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Zelig-Kokonuts Effect


In 1983, Woody Allen came out with
Zelig, a mockumentary (a term used now but not then, I don't think) movie that cleverly features the character Leonard Zelig showing up in authentic-looking footage with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone, Babe Ruth, et cetera et cetera almost ad nauseam. Somehow Zelig, the human chameleon, seems to show up effortlessly throughout history's panorama of personalities, both good and bad.

This was way before the tedious and more contrived Forrest Gump.

Yesterday, there was a rare convergence of this phenomenon: the Zelig-Kokonuts Effect.

The fictional Pawlie Kokonuts was walking in the non-fictional downtown, in the environs of his former place of employment, when, lo and behold, one of the prickly principals (with who knows what principles) in that former drama, is standing on the public sidewalk being interviewed, stagily, by who knows whom, boom microphone and professional-looking camera equipment on hand, all that; or perhaps it was a commercial or a political campaign kickoff or a videotaped deposition or a mockumentary that would entice someone like me to blog about it, citing the mockumentary Zelig.

The fictional Pawlie Kokonuts, Zelig-like, was tempted to walk poker-faced between the camera's angle of vision and the two subjects (subject and object? actors? participants? quasi-principled principals? interviewer-interviewee? game show host and contestant?) of the celluloid drama unfolding. An uninvited player in an playa's play.

Instead, the fictional Mr. Kokonuts calmly kept to the opposite side of the street, no juvenile V signs, no obscene gestures, no smirks, no waves, no picking of his nose, no gawking, no shouts, no coughs, no pregnant pauses, no poses. A pedestrian in the most pedestrian of backgrounds. Nevertheless, a ghost in the footage, for sure. An uninvited guest in the public realm. A blurred memory in the Zapruder archive of the Modern Workplace. The quintessential presence of absence.

(Mr. Kokonuts, we're so proud of you for behaving. Or are we?)

3 comments:

Michael T said...

Did you know that celluloid was used in false teeth toward the end of the 19th century? They stopped that when the mouths of smokers started catching fire.

I hope the celluloid drama escaped flame-free.

Patti said...

Not proud. Would have much preferred you doing all sorts of weirdness in the background, simply to ruin the shot I guess.
I'm feelin' feisty today, Pawlie.

That was a fun movie. Thanks for the reminder.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Please tell me you looked directly into the camera... even from a distance... and then kept walking.

No? Well, at least there were no rabbit ears.



Scarlett & Viaggiatore