It’s an interesting question – What is normal? Have you seen any normal people today? Who looks like a normal person? For my Week 5 story critique, I headed back to YouTube and asked the question: what is normal? In JulianJamesTV’s The Normality Project: What is ‘Normal’? the author took to the streets of London to try and answer these questions and find people who are normal.
After looking at and reading a lot of professional opinions, I wanted to take in a “man on the street” view of my interest topic to learn more about what people perceive as normal and just who qualifies for being normal. I also wanted to examine the more basic traits of the story being told, so I am revisiting the assessment traits defined by Jason Ohler including Sense of Audience, Media Application, and Media Grammar.
Sense of Audience:
The creators of this story clearly intended this video for an internet audience. The first-person interview style of the narrative doesn’t tell a “story” per se, but it does successfully capture to confusion and disparate opinions as to what defines “normal” in today’s society. The video very effectively demonstrates that the criteria for normality varies from person to person and that, even with a large crowd of people, it’s difficult to pick out someone who could be considered normal by any accepted definition. In my opinion, this is a great way of asking the question “If an average person can’t define what normal is, how do we know if it really exists?” The audience for this video is clearly looking for an answer to this question and while the video doesn’t necessarily answer it, it does provide food for thought about why we are asking the question in the first place.
For this type of discussion, capturing the instant and off-the-cuff responses of the interviewees was key. The interviewer doesn’t really give them time to think on the questions he asks like “Are you normal?” or “Have you seen any normal people today?” The staccato questioning only serves to heighten the confusion and ambiguity that each interviewee expresses about what constitutes a normal person. He intermixes these responses with longer and more philosophical responses which help to balance the different perspectives while reinforcing that the definition of normal varies from person to person.
Watching the video, it’s filmed in a very rough style. The cuts between interviews are rough and the entire video feels jumbled together and, in my opinion, makes the story more effective than it would have been if it had been carefully staged and edited. As it is, the story feels raw and uncertain which works with the questions being asked. The rawness and uncertainty mirrors the unfiltered and uncertain responses from the men and women being interviewed. Also, using an interview narrative makes the viewer feel like they are the one conducting the interviews and pushing the camera close up on the faces of people answering the questions makes it feel like the viewer is in the middle of the discussion too.
I found this video very helpful for reinforcing the ideal that there is no such thing as a normal person. The creator does a good job pointing out the inconsistencies in society’s definition of normal. Here’s this large crowd of people that he’s randomly sampling and no two people can give the same definition of what should be considered normal.