Back In January, Newsweek, the epitome of a dying old media dinosaur, had the audacity to publish a misinformed, horrendously written listicle titled, “America’s Dying Cities.” This thing chapped my ass quite a bit when it came out — I remember storming out of my house and going for a long, serenity reestablishing walk — and still does to this day, as it named New Orleans — New Orleans — as the most dying city of all of America’s dying cities.
I resisted the urge to write something vitriolic in response, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, deciding instead to try to figure out another way to respond later on. And while I still haven’t come up with an intelligent, measured way to appropriately tell Newsweek to go f*ck itself, it appears as though the people of Grand Rapids, Michigan, another one of the cities on Newsweek’s list, have, and it’s just so damn beautiful.
What they did, with $40,000 of funding from local businesses, was make one hell of a mesmerizing lipdub video using Don McLean’s “American Pie”– it’s an almost 10 minute long tracking shot featuring thousands of locals, and it appears as though a large swath of the city was shut down for the production.
Here’s a description of the video from Facebook:
“The Grand Rapids LipDub Video was filmed May 22nd, with 5,000 people, and involved a major shutdown of downtown Grand Rapids, which was filled with marching bands, parades, weddings, motorcades, bridges on fire, and helicopter take offs. It is the largest and longest LipDub video, to date.
This video was created as an official response to the Newsweek article calling Grand Rapids a “dying city.” We disagreed strongly, and wanted to create a video that encompasses the passion and energy we all feel is growing exponentially, in this great city. We felt Don McLean’s “American Pie,” a song about death, was in the end, triumphant and filled to the brim with life and hope.” – Rob Bliss, Director & Executive Producer
It’s kind of astounding when you stop and really think about it: A mid-sized American city (population 188,000) responded to a slight by a national magazine by setting a day aside to make a YouTube video. Enjoy…
Interestingly, a similar type of video was made a few years back, long before Newsweek devolved into a rag that publishes listicles specifically designed to induce rage, by Clint Maedgen and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, featuring a long tracking shot of Clint riding a bike through the French Quarter while lipdubing a cover of “Complicated Life” — originally written by Ray Davies of the Kinks — that he and the band did. It too is quite beautiful, and I’m submitting it now as part of New Orleans’ official response to Newsweek’s effrontery. Enjoy…