I Like Al!

When McSweeney’s recently held their SOS fundraiser, I pounced on the Wholphin DVDs signed by Spike Jonze, the famous director of movies, commercials and music videos. The first issue of Wholphin, a quarterly DVD magazine, included Jonze’s rarely seen, 13-minute mini-documentary called “Lost Al Gore Documentary.” (Watch it here).

I believe everyone, regardless of how jaded or cynical they might be, has sought the autograph of someone famous. As a huge fan of Jonze’s work, I was more than happy to buy this memento because a) I support McSweeney’s and b) as Jonze largely eschews the public eye, I doubt he signs many autographs anyway.

Prior to Gore’s presidential bid in 1999, Jonze spent a day with the vicepresident and his family in Carthage, Tenn., and was subsequently invited to join them for part of their family vacation in North Carolina. Jonze’s mini-documentary, which he shot with handheld mini-DV, is poignant and revealing. According to the liner notes, Jonze says:

“I didn’t know anything about [Gore] and I went in just wanting to know who he is, and by the end of the day I felt that they were a really solid family and I really liked them. I think that Al and Tipper have to be good people and good parents to have created a family that’s so solid. They look out for each other, and you can feel it. I mean, it’s really obvious when you’re around a dysfunctional family and it’s also obvious when you’re around a really functional family.”

It’s hard to explain, but I strongly believe that had anyone else been given similar access to Gore and had shot identical footage, the final product simply would not have been the same. I believe Jonze has an extraordinary gift for translating his vision through moving images. And just like Michel Gondry, Jonze is a Dreamer.

Two works of staggering genius:

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