Yesterday, an 18-month-old YouTube video about Annandale, Virginia, climbed to the top of Reddit for some reason, bringing it the vast majority of its now-over-a-million views.
Those who clicked through were presented with a riveting 96 seconds of tautly constructed cinema:
As with so much great art, the underlying “message” is hard to decipher at first. Perhaps the film isn’t supposed to “say” anything in the traditional sense.
But taken together, a series of clues drawn from the video’s title (“Welcome Home to the Shithole of Annandale, VA”); the stoically delivered narration (“This miserable ashtray of a town soaked with urine … Annandale has dutifully functioned as a funnel for the dregs of society from the rest of Virginia … the cozy, numbing sight of people who have given up on their lives all around you”); and the striking images of filth, ruin, and a dead rat, point the viewer — the discerning viewer, at least — to the conclusion that the creator of the video probably does not like Annandale, Virginia.
That creator’s name is Angelo Mike, or FlyingOverTr0ut on YouTube, and I was curious whether, and to what extent, his feelings about Annandale had changed since the video went up in September 2014. What follows is a short, lightly edited email interview:
I’m curious whether your thoughts on the place have changed since you published the video. Is it still a shithole? Have you found peace living there, or have you moved elsewhere?
Thanks! I still live in this shithole. But I have a realtor helping me find a place and plan on moving. I just try and stay busy while I still live in this garbage house and not focus on the neighborhood or my crappy roommates or landlord.
What advice would you give a young person who is set on moving to Annandale for work or a relationship?
Oh man, I have no idea. I’m not good at giving advice. I’m lucky to have YouTube as an outlet, most people probably don’t have anything like that and might be living in a bad situation. The way you look at things changes the things you look at. So if you think there’s no opportunities to be found, you will find that to be true, because the story you narrate to yourself each time an opportunity is waiting to be turned over is that it won’t work, so don’t even try.
But that’s easier said than done. Like I said, I really don’t know. Read [Holocaust survivor and existential psychoanalyst] Viktor Frankl, he gave better advice than I ever could.
Thanks. Last question: What is your favorite thing about Annandale?
Other than all the “a”s … Dollar Tree is a great place to shop at cheaply.