Anger so brutal that it is art. Anger so intense that it is beautiful.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK
Let us dive into the glassy lake that is this video, this video that went viral over the weekend of a man losing his shit with a cyclist to the point where he chases after him, tries to kick his back tire and falls over, breaking his fingers and his face, exhibiting a rage so pure and intense that it becomes almost beautiful, a rage so ever-burning and infinite that the person in the passenger seat doesn't even blink at it, they are so used to it, they don't even say a thing.
Here's a viral video called "A clown takes a pratfall":
It is two minutes and 52 seconds into this video that possibly my favorite thing in the world happens, and that is the sentence "put your FUCKING MOUTH SHUT" being uttered. Unpackage: Peugeot Dad is angry for that classic angry dad reason: cyclists don't pay road tax, and by extension "do not obey the rules of the road." And then the cyclist notices he is not wearing his seatbelt, therefore also flouting the rules of the road, and tells him "put your seatbelt on." And then in his rage Peugeot Dad shouts "put your FUCKING MOUTH SHUT."
This is the perfect sentence. This is the perfect sentence. In the wider theory of phonoaesthetics, it's generally considered that the English compound noun "cellar door" is the perfect combination of syllables and vowel sounds, the perfect phrase to glide and dance along the tongue. With respect: bollocks and bullshit. Replace the Wikipedia article for one about "put your FUCKING MOUTH SHUT," for it is perfection; a sentence so angry it has a distinct U-turn in it, between the "fucking" and the "mouth shut." The pause in this sentence kills me, renders me mute. "Put your..." he starts, echoing the instruction already issued to him, and then he pauses, realizing he hasn't got anything that the word "put" can apply to, and so swears, stalling for time—"FUCKING", his tone escalating—all the while tugging ungently on a sticky seatbelt, and then he realizes the nub of the sentence, the point of it: to ask the cyclist if he would mind being quiet—and then the words all come to him at once, in grunts and chirps, until he is bellowing the most simple building blocks of the instruction that he can manage—"MOUTH SHUT!" before driving half a yard and then braking. God that sentence is perfect. Carve it on my arm in Cyrillic text. Laser etch it into my gravestone when I die.
The pure, clear beauty of full tempo Dad-rage. Because that's what this is: a dad losing his shit in real time. The cyclist comes up behind him and says, "too close mate, waaaay too fucking close," and Peugeot Dad is already on full beam, bellowing-until-he-spits anger. He went to 100 without even getting near 0. He started at 0 the day he was born, and has been idling at 100 ever since. "OI," he says. "HOW FUCKING BIG IS THAT BICYCLE?" No back and forth, no "Oh, was I?", just full on rage. I love that. Imagine driving around, constantly, a bubbling pot of fury. In a Peugeot. And notice again that the person in the passenger seat says nothing. They are used to this. This is an ordinary amount of rage for him to have. He is the angriest man alive.
But the meat of this video is in the fall, a graceful and perfect moment of karma that transcends "hilarious" and becomes "basically art" when viewed in slow-motion.
It's the kick that is Peugeot Dad's undoing, the kick at 3:25, when he realizes his simple human body cannot compete pace-wise with a bicycle, and in one moment of sheer anger-induced desperation he tries to kick the back tire out, but then his stride is off, and his landing foot immediately wobbles, and then—
— and then he fucks the landing, and he knows instantly that he is going, veering off toward the left, propelled by his own weak kicking foot, the kicking foot Judas to his Jesus, the kicking foot betraying him when he needed it most—
—and he's going, still, and he knows it, his velocity somehow shaking his own glasses off his face—
—and then here, the moment of truth, the perfect swan dive, both feet off the ground now, arms extended to the inevitable impact of the ground beneath him, the gray concrete swimming up to say hello, and a clear, glass-like moment of calm; his face soft and accepting, his body ready for a fate his angry mind has dealt it, knowing now that the pain will come, a pain deep not only in his fingers and face but also in his ego, dented like a Peugeot hood after a low-speed impact with a cyclist. This is a moment that stretches for infinity. It is a moment of high beauty and art. Has 2015 rendered a moment more perfect than this? It has not. This moment should be blown-up large and put in a museum for the ages. You should have to pay a $15 entry fee and line up for hours just to see this moment. Security guards should stand on either side of this moment with walkie talkies. Sophisticated thieves should be trying to steal this moment through a prison of lasers. Forgers should be trying to render it anew on the cheap. This is our Mona Lisa.
Man on Pavement, 2015
Man Curiously Propelling Ass Into Air From a Sideways Landing Position And Despairing, 2015
The YouTube comments on this—and much of the discussion in general, really, since it went viral—are focused on deciding who is right and who is wrong, breaking this road rage incident down into a simple good vs. evil, bikes vs. cars campaign.
But to focus on that is to take away from the true heart of this video, and that is that it is the most beautiful thing any recent generation has ever produced. Cars and bikes will be lost to the sands of time, but Peugeot Dad will endure. We will all live and we will all die, but Peugeot Dad faceplanting on the pavement thanks to his own petty rage will live forever.
Follow Joel on Twitter.
All screenshots via YouTube