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[show=slowclap size=large]Two rebel ballroom dancers perform a forbidden and exquisite paso doble. The class nerd overcomes his shyness and delivers the speech of a lifetime. The unsung hero of a massive undertaking finally gets her due. What’s the cherry on these classic moments of cinema? The approval of an audience, thought to be hostile, that instead slowly but surely rewards the hero with the one method of communication that unites many as one — a slow, dramatic clap.
As a child of the 80s, editor, producer and videoblogger Mary Matthews grew up watching movies like Can’t Buy Me Love and Lucas, in which victory is typically rewarded by this sort of applause, and wanted to recreate the cliche in an Internet context. So on April 23, she put out a general call via her blog, Facebook, and Twitter for people to send her videos of these sorts of dramatic claps. The video included examples from various films, but beyond that she didn’t offer much instruction on how to actually perform the clap. “It was pretty self-explanatory,” she said via phone.
After receiving an estimated 70 or 80 submissions, the full video debuted on May 11, with the responses edited into an epic 3-minute round of applause. The credits total the participants at “288 people, two puppets, one cat, and a banana,” with noted participants including Steve Garfield, Amanda Congdon, some folk in Renaissance Faire fare, and a classroom of schoolgirls in full uniform. A few get post-modern about it (one group of guys, rather than keep the clap generic, starts shouting “Way to go, Mr. President!”) but most just keep to that same steady rhythm, rising to a crescendo.
According to Matthews, who’s been videoblogging since 2006, “The collaborative powers of the Internet were seen a lot more in the beginning of videoblogging, but as time has gone on, the camera has turned more towards citizen journalism and infotainment.” While she doesn’t consider the project to necessarily be nostalgic, she does think that “it’s a nice reminder of the positive powers of the Internet, especially in an age of trolling and dragging people down.”
And it worked. Because here’s the embarrassing thing to admit: Maybe I’ve seen too many of these movies, maybe the underlying music had a more profound affect on me than anticipated, but like a few other commenters on Vimeo, I was actually really moved by the culmination of these claps.
Of course, there’s something I’m overlooking. For while the slow clap often is the reward for an inspiring act, in this case perhaps the clap itself is the thing to find inspiring. People brought together to create something pure and sweet? It deserves a slow clap of its very own.