Thanks to the dot-com explosion a few years back, we’ve been inundated with countless new media, almost all related to our ubiquitous friend, Mr. Internet. Downloadable digital music tops the list, but blogging is a close second, followed in no particular order by podcasting, daily e-mailers, vlogging — the list goes on and on into notions sometimes brilliant, but usually half-baked.
Leave it to the true geniuses at McSweeney’s — that Dave Eggers literary vehicle responsible for some of the best writing read in years — to come up with a new medium that’s finally not web-based. They call it Wholphin: A DVD Magazine of Unseen Things, and if the first $22 edition is any sign — a blend of shorts, poignant documentaries, government tutorials, foreign cartoons, and more — we’d better take note and subscribe.
The idea to “make sure important films … are not lost, that they reach the audience they deserve” was inspired by a Spike Jonze doc about Al Gore that was made but never screened before the 2000 election. DVD editor Brent Hoff, who included said doc in this collection, writes, “This film might have wiped away, in 22 minutes, Gore’s reputation as a robot.” As an engaging, funny portrait of the former veep as a normal dude, the film does just that, and shows that he would have been one of the most honest and real presidents ever.
Other highlights include Jeroen Offerman singing “Stairway to Heaven” perfectly in reverse, a Turkish sitcom subtitled thrice with three different plots, some U.S. government propaganda about how having a clean house will save you from a nuclear attack, and the awesomely intriguing short The Big Empty, about a vacuous vagina. No matter what your artistic taste, you’ll find something to think about on this DVD. And you needn’t use the Internet at all — well, other than buying it off mcsweeneys.net.
— Matt Kettmann