The Phenomenon Of Emma Clark: The Twilight Viral Video Woman

The new trailer for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse just hit the internet this morning and fans all over the world are collectively flipping out about it as usual. But there is one fan whose reaction I actually took time out of my day to watch on Youtube, as I have in previous years: Emma Clark, AKA nuttymadam. Hit the jump to see her reaction to watching the Eclipse trailer several times, and for some thoughts on what her rise on the internet represents.

Clark's videos have been viewed millions of times. Frequently, they just feature her speaking excitedly into what appears to be a low-res webcam. The sound quality is bad and her volume level causes distortion in the audio output, most likely due to a low-quality microphone.

Initially what drew me to these videos was the bizarre juxtaposition between the low-quality of the Twilight films/books, and the intensity of her completely unironic fan reaction to them. Clark is uninhibited in her love for these films, to the point when I literally questioned her mental stability. She squeals with delight, screams at the camera, revels in peals of laughter and joy. The viewing experience can often be unpleasant.

But as time went on, I realized that these videos encapsulated so much of our internet culture, and should be lauded/studied as such. I'm sure many watch these videos to gawk, point, and stare. Clark's Youtube pages are loaded with reams of abuse, many people calling her a "fatass" and "embarrassing," ridiculing her physical appearance and heaping insults on her for her love of the Twilight franchise. Yet still, Clark has not been scared off from continuing to put herself out there.

As someone who produces a weekly podcast, I know the perils of putting yourself out there on a regular basis. People, writing as though they know you, have no compunctions about tearing into you. They call you names and declare that they hate you, that you're worthless (and all just because you like to talk about movies and record it for a short time each week, no less). Conversely, the rewards of sharing yourself with the world can often be short-lived and insubstantial. So, to me, there's something fearless about Clark's ability and desire to continue making these videos. She has a deep and abiding love for the series, and it seems to me that spreading that love to her fellow Twilight fans is ultimately what's more important to her than anything else.

More compelling than any of that, though, is the fact that there's an undeniable purity about Clark's love for the films. For those of us who've been talking and writing about movies for years, it's so hard to get excited about any upcoming property in a meaningful way. For me, it's a rare occurrence, and I cherish it when it happens (recent example for me: Sitting in a theater, waiting for a screening of Matthew Vaughn's Kick Ass to start). But through Clark's videos, I'm able to regularly and vicariously experience that excitement, even if it's for a series of films that I despise.

Thus, the phenomenon of Clark and her videos hold, in synecdoche, everything significant about internet culture: The vast sea of anonymous haters, the possibility of underground celebrity for anyone with a camera and a laptop, the community of fans that coalesce around certain properties, and the power of movies and fictional characters to transport us to magical places, and to stir in our hearts an excitement that the monotony of daily life just can't muster.

There's something amazing about all that. That's why, even though I may tease, I can't bring myself to be a hater. Quite the contrary: Clark's videos reminds me why I started writing/talking about movies in the first place. And we all need that, every once in awhile.