Subgenius in France

Les Témoins d'Outre-Mer!

Look, ma! I’m a talking head on live TV!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: last December after the untimely, tragic, wholly unfair death of Carrie Fisher, a reporter from our local ABC affiliate asked me for an on-air interview about the time my wife Anne and I met her at Indiana Comic Con 2015 and had the most unforgettable convention experience of our lives. My evening news interview was unexpected, it was surreal, and it was effectively my television debut.

This week, for another unexpected and surreal minute, I found myself on TV again. But this time, Midlife Crisis Crossover took to the international airwaves.

I was contacted by a journalist working for a French TV show called Les Témoins d’Outre-Mer, which Google Translate parses roughly as “The Overseas Witnesses”. In a format resembling The View, a group of panelists watches and responds to a series of videos on a given topic, all solicited from assorted creative individuals beyond France’s borders. It allows for interaction with international perspectives and, I presume, provokes lively discussions and/or insight. I can’t say for sure because I don’t speak French. Once again my school-age German classes fail to come in handy.

The journalist sought out commentary from me for a planned segment on midlife crisis, which you may have noticed is up there in the masthead and implies familiarity with the concept, if not necessarily a scholarly mastery. The mission, should I have chosen to accept it, was to film a one-minute selfie video talking about if or when I encountered my own midlife crisis, what I did to overcome it (assuming I did), and how I’m feeling about it today. Longtime MCC readers may be struggling to remember examples of me pivoting to video. Those attempts are exceedingly few, but they’re in the MCC back catalog if you know where to look, though they’re not exactly enticing.

Honestly, video never occurs to me as a storytelling option. And until now, no one has ever actually asked me to do a video. Me, an old guy, of all people. The idea sounded challenging and counterintuitive and scary. So I went for it.

The final results of my contribution plus their wise editing are contained in the following LTOM segment, which aired on France O this past Tuesday, the morning of Halloween, with narration by reporter Diego Badia. After a few excerpts from other bloggers and vloggers more comfortable working a phone camera than I am, my shaky soliloquy begins around the 6:08 mark:

(Or if the DailyMotion video fails to embed, here’s the direct link.)

I have no idea what the friendly pundits are saying in the intro or in their commentary afterward. Beyond the polite laughter at the end, I mean. I sent out feelers to Facebook friends in hopes that at least one of them might be fluent in that fabled “language of love” and could tell me if I was being mocked or celebrated as the next Jerry Lewis. I didn’t actually tell my Friends list I was in the video myself, only that I was hoping they could tell me what was in those specific seconds. The secret lede to that post, “HEY, GUYS, I WAS ON TV IN FRANCE!”, was buried deeply as a special surprise for the first observant friend to actually click on it, actually watch it, and actually realize my face and voice are in it. As of this moment I’m still waiting. I wonder how much I could earn selling off my personal Facebook account to Russian spammers.

Their flummoxed unobservance aside, the main headline here is: HEY, GUYS, I WAS ON TV IN FRANCE. Congratulations, MCC readers, now you know something my family and friends don’t. This and a five-dollar bill might buy you a cup of coffee if you leave out This.

For the curious, I’ve uploaded my complete minute-plus response to YouTube for posterity and as sort of a DVD extra for this entry. It’s not the best thing ever, but it’s extemporaneous me:

In my defense, I was given a two-day deadline to put this together. The first day was a total wash due to day-job obligations. The second day, it rained for hours and ruined my idea for a pretty Indiana backdrop. I began to write a few hundred words as a starting point, but as the deadline loomed, I chucked that and winged the whole thing. My first try was unusable because I forgot to hit the “Video” button and found out a minute later I’d just been speaking and taking selfie pics of myself at the same time. The second take worked, and it had to suffice, because I was supposed to be cooking and preparing for family to come over. I didn’t have time to give myself the David Fincher treatment and shoot sixty-four takes. Frankly, though, I think it could’ve helped and I would’ve been up for it if anyone had volunteered as director.

As someone who rarely takes selfies, let alone video, it’s painfully obvious I’m no cinematographer. Yet. But at least you can see the entire humbling attempt, including the parts deemed Too Hot for French TV. Or call it “The Unrated Directors Cut”, whichever clickbait approach you think is best. This whole “pivot to video” sensation is new to me and I have no idea how to exploit it properly for the sake of hopping aboard the YouTube millennial bandwagon.

Fair warning: if you see me trying this too often, that might be a sign my midlife crisis really has begun. Interventions welcome.

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