A Shirley Sherrod Lesson from Seinfeld: Context!

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As the Shirley Sherrod incident has made plain, the cautionary tagline of the world of online videos has to be context, context, context!

A new, and much lighter video shows just how malleable video content can be in the hands of a clever editor, or agenda-driven journalist. Released just a week ago, the YouTube Video “Serenity Now” features montages plucked from nine years worth of Seinfeld episodes. Fool around with the play speed, add some maudlin and cheesy background music, and bam, you’ve got a convincing trailer for a blood-curdling thriller.

Of course, anyone familiar with Seinfeld recognizes these iconic images – the crew in Los Angeles, Elaine seeking refuge from a barking dog – for what they are. Exercises in pettiness, stupidity and immaturity, hilarious nonetheless.

Since having been posted a week ago, the video has already garnered more than 150,000 views, and calls to mind other brilliant video spoofs, such as the subtitle-creativity applied ad nauseum to Hitler’s bunker scene in Der Untergang. Those re-cuts have since been taken down, and the Seinfeld spoof is likely to also draw attention over copyright issues.

But in the meantime, it serves to help adapt the classical real estate adage – location, location, location! – to the digital age. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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