The Betamale Gaze

Jon Rafman‘s creepy short film “Still Life (Betamale)” is NSFW:

Ben Valentine details how Rafman’s film captures the dark art of the Internet:

“Still Life (Betamale)” confronts some of humanity’s newer and more obsessive activities, all things that may be unique to the web (though we’re never sure). The video sets the stage with shots of disgustingly lived-at computer desks covered in bits of food and cigarette ashes, surrounded by energy drinks and dirty dishes. The main character, the fat man with panties covering his face, pointing two guns at his own head, is leading us on a nearly psychosis-inducing stream of various types of fetish and subculture porn — some of the web’s darkest and strangest corners. This is not the safe and corporate internet of Facebook or Google; “Still Life (Betamale)” is drawn from the visually overloaded world of 4chan, as obsessively browsed by a man who lives in his mother’s basement.

The video paints a clear picture of the stereotype we associate with 4chan users:

smelly men who obsessively consume, produce, and share socially unaccepted media, never AFK. By splicing together footage and images from these online communities, Rafman places the viewer at the center of a mind-numbing search for meaning in some of the most socially questionable places. … Rafman shows how these creations were made in a sincere search for pleasure, meaning, community, and self-expression, as grotesque as they may look to some of us.

Brandon Soderberg reviewed the film back in October:

The 8-bit imagery (recalling the digital pixel art of Uno Moralez) brings with it an ambiguous menace. Moments of joy and humor creep in as well: Can you deny that a guy in a bunny suit bouncing up and down in his ground floor apartment isn’t having the time of his life?

The more you sit with this collection of clips and images, the harder it is to LULZ away. You gain empathy even as you grow more creeped out. The combined pile-up of seeing suicidal panties dude a few times, and the long-as-hell clip of someone in a fox costume, stuck in a mudpit in the middle of the woods, is mind-cracking. A sense of overabundance sits in your gut long after “Still Life (Betamale)” (which climaxes by finding infinity in piss-soaked panties) ends. You’re overwhelmed and engulfed by the unlimited. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a furry flailing about in quicksand—forever.

The Dish has featured Rafman’s work here and here.