On January 17, 2017, Twitter officially shut down Vine, the popular social media networking app that had brought hours of endless, hilarious, short entertainment and propelled dozens of regular teens to stardom levels of fame, for good.
In the year since its untimely death, there have been hundreds of Vine compilation videos on Youtube and threads on Twitter, each sharing what that user thinks were the best Vines in history, each titled something along the lines of “Best of Vine,” “RIP Vine,” or “I Miss Vine.”
With so many compilations showcasing the “best of” Vine, and no one video to rise above them all, what is at the end of the road? What is the best Vine ever made? And listen carefully: I don’t mean the most looped Vine or the most wild (I think the most wild Vine is I’m Semi I Stay Automatic, simply because the large amount of action that happens in the clip) or even the funniest, which, as much as I would love to pick and revere in, is nearly impossible to select, due to the subjective nature of comedy and the fact that all the Vines that are funny enough to complete (Is This Allowed, Lipstick In My Valentino White Bag, Heart And Soul Nae Nae, etc (Honourable mention: This is the most underrated Vine and I would gladly write another 1,000 words about this one too)) within the sphere are too good and would likely tie if pitted against each other in a fight to the death. They are all too powerful.
Nay, when I ask about the Best Vine Ever, I guess what I really mean is that I want to find a Vine that best represents this era, a brief, wonderful, fleeting period of time (that could only be fully captured in brief, fleeting, six-second videos). I want to find the Vine that tells the viewer what 2012-2016 was all about.
If someone told me that I had to pick one Vine, only one, to be shown to a future civilization 1,000 years from now in either an academic or a sociological sense, I know what I would pick. The best Vine in the world is And They Were Roommates. And this is why.
On October 25, 2014, a Vine user named ig @mattsukkar uploaded his final Vine to the platform, captioning it only with the two dancer girls emoji. Since then, the Vine has been looped over 67 million times (meaning that, if this Vine was a single and we follow the new RIAA streaming structure, it would be certified quintuple platinum). In this video, only eleven words are said; four words are repeated. You know it. I know it. All I have to do is say “And they were roommates,” in a room full of millennials, and I guarantee more than half would get the reference. The video follows a girl walking on a sidewalk, having a conversation with somebody on the phone. As she passes the cameraman, who is elevated, she says, indignantly “And they were roommates!” Turning the camera back to himself, the filmmaker, wearing reflective blue sunglasses says, in a flat voice, “Oh my god, they were roommates.”
That’s it. That’s all there is.
A moment like this comes, it feels like, but once in a lifetime, and for this to have been recorded and put online to be watched millions and millions of times is nothing short of a miracle. How did he know? Did he hear the girl walking towards him, saying other ridiculous things? Was he just planning to record her conversation as a whole, to send to a friend or to just keep for himself, and then that happened, and he just did and said what any other person would do, except while recording? This moment stands out in time. The Vine wasn’t scripted or made by a famous Viner, which makes it all the more special: A normal, mundane person filmed part of a normal, mundane conversation of a normal, munade stranger, and responded in a way that likely many of us would do if we were sitting with our friends and someone walking by said the same thing. This video is natural and organic, from the way the camera follows the girl as she walks to the shock in her voice. Something like this, though jokes like this happen all the time, cannot be recreated, which only adds to my argument: And They Were Roommates represents 2012-2016 in a very, very particular and effective way.
The fact that what ig @mattsukkar captured and responded to, what is, ultimately, a super boring moment in the grand scheme of things makes it a perfect representation of the climate at the time. First of all, what was he doing? It seems like he was just sitting on his porch or stoop— a common activity most of us can relate to. The girl walking by is talking into her Apple earbuds, her hands waving loosely as she stomps by our cameraman. She is dressed in purple leggings and a grey sweatshirt, wearing a black backpack and white sneakers. The white sneakers, are, of course, crucial to this time period, peaking in popularity in 2015/2016 due to the very brilliant and strategic relaunch of the adidas Stan Smiths and taking over your Instagram.
There’s other things that play into this Vine’s importance: The fact that the creator, ig @mattsukkar, never uploaded another Vine after this one speaks to the fleeting nature of fame and the fetishizing culture of mystery that surrounds the entertainment industry these days. The fact that, after all this time, the identity of the girl remains unknown, adds to its allure. A video featuring two unknown strangers, both saying nothing really out of the ordinary— surely we’ve all had conversations like this girl was having— skyrocketing to fame and bringing hilarity is, in itself, hilarious, because it speaks to the time period, and, really, our generation of twenty-somethings: We see ourselves in this scenario, we can put ourselves in the shoes of either one of the players. As a representation of life in 2014, this is it. This is as far as it goes. Sitting on the stoop, filming gossiping strangers wearing white sneakers, making snide commentary about otherwise dull conversation. This Vine is a shining beacon of hope from back in the day, when “Trap Queen” ruled the world.
I tried reaching out to Matt Sukkar to find out more about the Vine, both through email and by sliding into his Instagram DMs. However, he didn’t get back to me—perhaps on purpose, to preserve the allure? I was a bit afraid when I messaged him. I did not want to find out something terrible, like that the video was planned and scripted, that the girl was his friend, or God knows what else. I like believing that the video was pure and unintentional, that it “just happened,” and that ig @mattsukkar succeeded in capturing a bland, boring moment that turned into a cultural phenomenon purely by chance.
If there is some sort of disaster, and a future group of archaeologists is looking through our records 1,000 or even 500 years from now, trying desperately to locate some memento to help understand what life was like in 2014, I hope this Vine is the first thing they find. Follow Sofie on Twitter.