It’s a wonderful story: A homeless man with an amazing voice appears in a video produced by Doral Chenoweth of the Columbus Dispatch… the video quickly goes viral… and days later, the homeless man has a new home and job offers from Kraft, ESPN, the NFL, MTV and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Why did the initial video (below) go viral? What do you experience as you watch it? What nerve does this story strike that make so many people want to share it?
The appeal certainly can’t be the cinematography, sound engineering, editing, typography, or overall visual aesthetics — all of which are fine, but hardly unusual.
We’re surprised and engaged, I think, because the video reminds us of some eternal truths: Our eyes often mislead us. To see what matters most, we need to look beneath the surface. Everyone deserves a shot at redemption. And: A homeless man panhandling in the cold at the corner of I-71 & Hudson Street can channel the Voice of God.
It’s 1 minute 38 seconds of Scripture.
What does this have to do with National Geographic? Only this: These days, NGS seems less interested in the world, and more interested in representations of the world. We focus less on our mission, and more on our media. Appealing to our eyes seems more important than touching our hearts.
Want proof? Watch these two new videos produced by our Society to highlight two major NGS initiatives. What are you thinking about as you view them? When they’re over, what do you remember? And: Why have these videos failed to generate a groundswell of attention & action?