Winnebago Man (2009)
This documentary Winnebago Man (2009) describes a 1980s viral video, its presenter (Jack Rebney) and traces him after twenty years. Because of the abundance of swear words in the video, Jack Rebney was nicknamed by his fans as the “The Angriest Man in the World”. The film is available on Kanopy.
To understand this film you need to imagine a time before TikTok and YouTube. It was the 1980s, Video Cassette Recorders have become ubiquitous in every house, handy cams and Home videos were in trend. People exchanged cassettes or copied them between friends. As a term, viral videos were yet to be invented, wider distribution of amateur funny videos was limited to TV channels that aired them in exclusive programs. In that timeframe, an industrial demonstration video of an RV company called Winnebago became a sensation in bootlegging circles in the USA.
Curious to know what happened to Jack Rebney, little been known about him, and was untraceable after the video, Director Ben Steinbauer goes into an investigation. He even hires a private detective to track him. Slowly pieces started to fall in place, Ben is able to reach the crew of the video shoot, friends of Jack and learns that he was a journalist before the video. Soon, hearing that Ben was looking for him, Jack reaches out and they both meet and collaborate on this documentary. At first, Jack was surprised why people will be interested to know about him. He doesn’t want to talk about his life, instead, wants to use the documentary to share his political views and the state of the country (USA).
More than being about a single man, the documentary tries to show how off-camera presenter(s) are not who we picture them to be. I found it surprising that people had watched the bootlegged video hundreds of times, a stress-buster to laugh at others frustration and sorrow. Are there videos from the 1980s and 1990s that you remember? How many times have you watched them and why, share it in the comments below.