Movie Journal
J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

MOVIE JOURNAL: J. Hoberman on movies and movie-related things

“Modern Seinfeld”: Back to the Future

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Not stars but constellations: Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer are archetypal figures who live on in permanent syndication and beyond, now in cyberspace.

Possibly I’m the last person in the media to learn about this but, for the past month or so, BuzzFeed sports editor Jack Moore and comedian Josh Gondelman have been using a Twitter account, Modern Seinfeld @SeinfeldToday, to address an ache in our collective soul that we never knew we had (“What if ‘Seinfeld’ was still on the air”), filling the vacuum by tweeting TV Guide-style synopses of  new “Seinfeld” episodes. It took four days for them to gather 160,000 followers — a number since more than doubled.

Here’s a tweet that cracked me up this weekend: “Kramer learns about Bin Laden’s death from Zero Dark Thirty. ‘When did THIS happen?!’ George gets caught taking pictures of Snapchats.” (Nearly as funny: “Elaine’s bf (Adam Scott) is too into astrology. George tells Jerry to wait at least an hour to respond to a woman’s texts, she dumps him.”) The tweets, many but not all of which are based on the simple application of social networking protocols into Seinfeld’s domain, are not only laugh-out-loud funny but uncanny in their ventriloquism. (“Kramer starts an offline dating ’site.’ KRAMER: It’s like online dating… but at a place. JERRY: You’re describing a bar! That’s a bar!”) These guys not only have “Seinfeld” logic internalized, they are totally fluent in turning the most ritualized sitcom ever since the grand kabuki of “The Honeymooners” into a language.

Granted, Modern Seinfeld is not as monumental an act of fan appreciation as Casey Pugh’s crowd-sourced shot-by-shot “Star Wars” remake, “Star Wars Uncut”. But its conceptual implications are even more resonant. Given the number of koans floating around the twitterverse, this is hardly the first time that tweeting has aspired to an art form. But, even given the true spectator sport of real time tele-tweeting, I’ve never seen the medium put to better use. Each is like a mini equivalent of Andy Warhol’s “Empire” — you don’t need to see it to get it.

As of this moment there have been 192 new episodes. This one came up even as I was writing: “George fakes an injury to get a seat on the subway, Kramer outs him. Jerry’s ex does an unflattering story on him for This American Life.” This. American. Life: perfect.

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