I know the story has already gotten ripe and decayed somewhat, but there’s something about that David Hasselhoff drunk burger-eating video, filmed by his own 17 year-old daughter, that just sticks with me. It’s one of the most gripping and entertaining 6-minute video clips of a famous human being I’ve ever seen, actually, and there are not many better instances of the ways in which youtube has impacted our appetite for entertainment and art. It’s perhaps the best example yet of a burgeoning genre of self-inflictive celebrity film entertainment. An extended moment in the “real” life of the celebrity persona, captured at its most broken, drunken and poetic.
The public tends to see these moments as being outside of an actor’s oeuvre, but in many ways they’re completely within it. I wonder if it’s not precisely because Hasselhoff has spent so many years shirtless in front of the camera that he’s able to make this movie, even while shit-in-his-pants drunk. I realize that part of why we love it and watch it obsessively is because we think it’s candid and unplanned (and it is!), but at some point we have to reconcile the fact that it also has real entertainment value, not much different than what we would seek in any movie—high or low, indie or blockbuster. The narrative rips us… a one-time heartthrob splayed out on the floor, too drunk to eat the burger that lies before him, a sloppy relic of the fast food nation that produced him. His daughter—young, level-headed and concerned—films evenly. Like any good director, she keeps him conversant throughout. She’s unafraid to follow through brilliantly with what appears to be a real intervention. It’s a delightfully complex narrative packed into a strikingly simple scene.
Hasselhoff has always had a certain unabashed willingness to expose and humiliate himself. Smarminess inverts itself and starts to look oddly honest, even charming. Charmy. This charminess may be why Europeans have always loved him as much as they do. Have another look at this, or this. In his brutish, indiscriminatory way, Hasselholff is a force of nature. A complete lack of self-consciousness breaks the restraints of what at first might look like foolishness. I think there’s real genius there.
And the brazen title of his recent autobiography, Don’t Hassel the Hoff? Good God. Enough said.
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