The Memory Hole Collects the 90s Home Movies That Were Too Weird for TV
Memory Hole is a place of horror and wonder. When you're inside the Hole it's easy for minutes to turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into years.
Screengrabs from the Memory Hole collection via their YouTube channel
The Memory Hole is a place of horror and wonder. When you're inside the Hole it's easy for minutes to turn into hours, hours into days, days into weeks, weeks into years. It's a place where you can find a man blasting baloney with a homemade flamethrower, Satan vacuuming the rug with his tongue, and a guy shooting a stack of pumpkins with a cannon. Also, toast.
MC'd by the weirdos behind Everything Is Terrible, Memory Hole is more amateur, more intimate, bordering on voyeuristic. We called up Commodore Gilgamesh, one of the editors behind the series, to ask him where he's finding these clips, what makes a video viral material, and the importance of "fluid ownership."
VICE: Could you describe Memory Hole?
Commodore Gilgamesh: It's kind of a crazy thing that we can't believe is happening, to be honest with you. We're pretty sure it will stop happening at any moment. So I haven't wrapped my brain around it. It's like... we travel in found footage circles, and as you can imagine we've met people who have been doing it for a long time, longer than us, and they all keep saying that we have the "keys to the mansion," is the quote. The sacred mansion, the Holy Grail. Basically, we were given access to the world's largest collection of home videos. And they're all very, very nicely organized and we can do whatever we want with them. Which is insane.
Whoa! Who gave you access to this?
They're the folks who run the longest-running primetime television program in history, I think. I can't say their names directly, but you can infer it based on the information I give you. Anyone who lives in this country and has watched television in the last 30 years knows who has every single home movie that is at all noteworthy.
I think I know which show you mean...
You've watched the television program, so you know what that consists of, but you can imagine what they haven't used. It's some of the most scary, darkest, fucked-up shit you can imagine. It's cool, because I've found home videos plenty of times at thrift stores, and that feels really invasive and weird, and I've never felt comfortable with it, but this is something that the creator was so proud of that he or she mailed it in with hopes of the world seeing it. So it's their decision, which is really, really awesome.
Have you ever found anything so disturbing you wouldn't release it?
In this collection, not yet, no. I've been talking to them and trying to figure out if they'd had, like, snuff films, or anything sent to them that they've had to turn over to the cops, but I haven't heard any specific stories of that. All of this has already been processed by them, so it's been through a lot of channels. I think the really fucked-up shit would never make it to us.
It's weird, even the stuff that they have aired, if you remove the zany voiceover and the dorky music and the laugh track and everything, it's horrifying. Our home life is dirty and weird and funny and terrifying.
How do you feel about television these days?
We're in Los Angeles, so we're kind of in "that world" now, and we're figuring it out. We're fairly new to it. We've only been at it for a few years with television people. We're definitely going to continue—I mean, that's where the stupid amounts of money exist. We're not going to stop trying [to get a TV show].
Do you ever worry about litigation?
No, but we used to worry about it. I think once we made Doggy Woggiez, Poochie Woochiez we kind of stopped worrying about it, because that was so heavily Disney that we were just certain we were gonna get sued, but when that didn't happen... Also, I think the tone has changed, the internet has kind of pushed people in a way to understand ownership in a fluid way, which we're very big fans of, and I think we've been pushing. Yeah, we get phone calls and emails and we're respectful and take stuff down when people ask us to, but we still include it in our movies and live shows and stuff because that's a totally different monster.
How does it feel when a video or a YouTube channel you have is taken down?
That's been a huge bummer and a really big obstacle for us, just as far as connecting and maintaining our fan base. It's really hurt us, I think. We've had over a million subscribers, lost them, and then regained them. Now we probably have 40 different homes for our videos. We actually had a meeting with YouTube the other day and it was very funny. We were like, "Do you guys know how bad you screwed us over?" And they were, of course, like, "Nope, we're different people." It was funny.
I noticed Memory Hole is a little bit more digestible than Everything Is Terrible. Is there a reason for that?
I think that's the way we've been going generally. I mean, Everything Is Terrible is hard because we have such a format that has existed for seven years, so we kind of try to stick to it, but I know personally I've wanted to make everything under a minute for a while. I think it's more of what the footage is telling us to do.
We're definitely going to do some long form work with them, like our feature movies. We're going to make more heavily effected and edited versions of the Memory Hole. I think making them digestible in that way is important for online consumption. It's what people want.
Do you have any tips on what makes a good viral video or how to edit videos to make them more internet friendly?
You know what's funny? I think we're really bad at it. [ Laughs] One of the members of EIT works at BuzzFeed. The [executive vice president of video at] BuzzFeed, Ze Frank, is responsible for some of the most popular YouTube videos of all time. He doesn't get us at all. He's always pretty much saying we do the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do to make a viral video. So if I were to give advice, it would be, "Do the opposite of Everything Is Terrible," which is to make everyone feel really good, make them think the culture and the world they're in is working great.
But that's the thing—if you're not doing that, if you're not just propping up everything as wonderful, you really need to be clear and ham-fisted with your politics. You know, like Upworthy shit is very viral and we don't do that either. We leave a lot of room for interpretation and the gray areas of life. So that's why Everything Is Terrible does not make good viral videos.
Are there any plans to go on tour with Memory Hole?
Yes, which is pretty exciting. I can't wait to tour around and show people this crazy stuff.
When can we expect another Memory Hole video?
Every Friday until the end of time, I guess.
I don't really have much else to say about Memory Hole because I don't really understand it.
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