Brain Pickings

Fifty People, One Question

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What world peace has to do with zombie fever and waking up in your own bed.

This past weekend, Vimeo announced the finalists in the first-ever Vimeo Awards for creativity and innovation in online video. While many of our favorites from the past few years made the cut, today we’re looking at one particularly wonderful project: Fifty People One Question.

The brainchild of filmmaker and designer duo Benjamin Reece and Nathan Heleine, the project is based on a simple premise that yields surprisingly rich results: Asking people one question and filming their response.

The project consists of four films, the first of which was shot in New Orleans and conceived by Reece, who later partnered with Heleine to produce the remaining three.

It’s amazing, in a deeply sad kind of way, how self-conscious and timid people become as they communicate a genuine wish for “world peace,” fully aware of the contrived fluff-status the phrase has attained. How disheartening to think that we’ve built ourselves a culture where the prospect of world peace is met with more cynicism than optimism and relayed with more self-derision than bold advocacy.

Filmed in 2008, the project is both brilliantly timeless in its honest humanity and curiously timestamped by the cultural fads and patterns of the day, from the bugeye sunglasses to the dawn of the zombie craze to the common concerns about joblessness at the peak of the economic meltdown.

Where would you like to wake up tomorrow?

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