A re-location to a bigger city has meant more exposure to Cinema – well “culture” as we North American’s know it. In the fair capital city of Canada I’ve had the opportunity of consuming a couple of tantalizing films, either at home or in the theatre. Just last night I had the experience of witnessing a very enduring documentary called Winnebago Man.
The documentary is centered around a cultural icon, Jack Rebney, who’s been nicknamed the Winnebago Man because of his disastrous, yet hilarious, Winnebago commercial. The “commercial” are the outtakes/outbursts of Rebney’s failures of remembering or screwing up lines. His constant outburst into F-Bombs and wonderful saying such as “my mind is shit today” and “can you do me a kindness” are what earned him notoriety. A youtube phenomena that has elicited shamless laughter upon millions.
The documentary not only introduces the audience to this phenomena but it explores the man behind the character. Most importantly it brings out the humanity behind this caricature. By establishing a human element to this cultural phenomenon, it pins down a darker quality of humanity. The documentary exposes our natural ability of drawing out entertainment from disaster or humiliation while forgetting that what we are laughing at is an actual human being having a bad day. Perhaps the documentary is guilt-ridden but it serves to be a great biopic of someone who no one would have noticed if it was not for this outtake commercial. It may have not provided answers as to why we tend to find someone’s misery entertaining but it did put meaning behind our laughter. The documentary’s goal was accomplished and the audience left the theatre in smiles. It had the opportunity to laugh and have a small piece of this great man Jack Rebney.