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Supercut videos (a.k.a pop culture megamixes) are video montages made of overused movie or TV platitudes. Very often, they are meant to highlight how certain hackneyed lines have lost all meaning due to their continuous employment by lazy screenwriters.
The term “supercut” was coined by blogger Andy Baio on April 11th 2008. In the original post, Baio described a supercut as:
(A) genre of video meme, where some obsessive-compulsive superfan collects every phrase/action/cliche from an episode (or entire series) of their favorite show/film/game into a single massive video montage.
In the blog post, Baio cites a YouTube video titled “Previously on Lost : What?” as an example of a Supercut, which was uploaded on April 3rd, 2008:
In TV & Films
Film critic Tom McCormack provides a comprehensive history of supercut aesthetics in his blog post “Compilation Nation.” Some of the earliest works have been attributed to video artist Bruce Conner’s 1958 found-footage feature A Movie and Dara Birnbaum’s 1978 Wonder Woman, while Hollywood employed similar techniques for various training sequences in martial arts films and sports dramas like Rocky. But the quintessential formula of stitching repetitive, fast cuts didn’t arrive until the 2000s with experimental short features like Christian Marclay’s Telephones (1995), Jennifer & Kevin McCoy’s Every Anvil (2001) and Chuck Jones’ Buffies (2002).
On YouTube, various compilation videos made by fans of TV shows and film actors foreshadowed the arrival of Supercuts, most notably the montage of David Carusoe’s cheesy one-liners in CSI. Some of the early YouTube trendsetters included Jesperc20, hh1edits, Bartoscar and Richfofo. Internet culture blogs like Huffington Post Comedy and Slacktory also became known as regular publishers of Supercut videos.
The first viral supercut video to deal specifically with clichés was compiled by Rich Juzwiak, an entertainment blogger who goes by the YouTube handle Richfofo on July 2nd, 2008. The video, titled “I’m Not Here To Make Friends”, is a 3 minute 20 second video of reality TV contestants exclaiming how they’re “not here to make friend”, they’re “here to win”. It was a hit across the internet, and has spawned several sequels.
On December 13th, 2009, You Tube user dunk3d posted the earliest known Movie Cliché Supercut, showing a montage of people looking at an image on a computer screen and mindlessly saying “enhance” – a highly inaccurate depiction of what computer imaging software is capable of, which had infuriated nerds for years.
This was followed by the “We’ve Got Company” montage by Guy Bauer on April 10th 2010.
The success of Supercuts can be also attributed to the rapid expansion of online resources, including video-sharing sites like YouTube, affordable editing software and peer-to-peer sharing services. In addition, contextual resources and reference sites like Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDB) and TV Tropes also accelerated the growth of Supercuts.
On November 1st, 2011, Andy Baio announced the relaunch of the website Supercut.org in an article on Wired. After teaming up with digital artist Michael Bell-Smith, Baio remade Supercut.org into a supercut video database with several different categories where users could upload their own videos. In the article, Baio shared statistics revealing that the majority of the videos use footage from films and that 5% of supercuts have over 300 edits.
From 2008 to 2011, hundreds of Supercuts were uploaded by various users on YouTube, opening up a new, multimedia chapter in the field of film criticism. There are genre-specific ones, such as “mirror scenes” in thrillers, “hand in your badge and gun” in police dramas and “there’s no signal” dillema in horrors; actor-specfic ones like Brad Pitt eating things in movies and Shia Labeouf’s frantic “no no no” and director-specific supercuts like Michael Bay’s epic spinning shots and Steven Spielberg’s signature “Spielberg face.”
Other YouTubers have adapted the Supercut style of editing outside of popular films and TV shows, especially in the world of politics. From President Obama’s “spending” talk and Rick Perry’s “I’m not a talker” excuse to George W. Bush’s silent pauses during the State of the Union and Sarah Palin’s audible breathing during interviews, this fast-cut style of editing has proven to be equally effective in deconstructing the public images of politicians through clichés and catchphrases.
Related: Shit People Say
Another spin-off trend in Supercut montages is a comedy skit series known as Shit Girls Say, which spun off from the single topic blog with the same name. Using the repetition motif as a means of emphasis, “Shit X Says” parodies have quickly become a witty way of exploring clichés within an ethnic or social stereotype.