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Film / Meeting People is Easy

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"I am not here and this is not really happening."
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Meeting People Is Easy is a 1998 direct-to-video rockumentary following the band Radiohead during the world tour for their third album OK Computer. It was directed and filmed by Grant Gee, who also directed the band's "No Surprises" video (the behind-the-scenes of which is briefly shown in the film).

The quality that separates Meeting People Is Easy from most documentaries is that while it follows a cohesive timeline, it doesn't even bother with a plot. Instead of highlighting the interpersonal relations or private matters of the band, the general atmosphere of the tour is the subject, focusing on the ennui the band grows towards their stardom and their eventual burnout, namely Thom Yorke's gradual mental breakdown leading to the later creation of Kid A and Amnesiac.

In achieving this goal, Gee used a direction style akin to the creation of a collage, with most footage falling into five main categories:

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  • Music writing,
  • Live performances,
  • Interviews,
  • Promo material, and
  • Abstract imagery.

The film also contains an early performance of a song then called "Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)", which a decade later would be released in a different arrangement as "Nude" on the band's 2007 album In Rainbows, as well as an early performance of "Man of War" (the lyrics to which are also printed on the back cover of both the VHS and DVD releases), which wouldn't see an official studio release until the OKNOTOK expanded reissue of OK Computer in 2017. Conversely, a scene set to the B-Side "Palo Alto" was later released on its own as a promotional music video for the film.

On a more trivial note, Meeting People is Easy was the first product released on the DVD format by EMI, with the US DVD being put out by EMI subsidiary Capitol Records in 1999 and the UK DVD by Parlophone Records in 2000 (Capitol and Parlophone were Radiohead's record labels in the US and UK, respectively).

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The entire documentary is officially free to watch on the Radiohead Public Library.


Tropes exhibited by this film include:

  • Creator Breakdown: Especially in hindsight, the film is more or less a real-time documentation of one happening in-universe among the band, but especially Thom.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Sometimes.
  • Diegetic Switch: Thom cues up "Palo Alto" during a radio show, at which point the film merges the song into the main BGM track and cuts to a montage.
  • Gratuitous French: Spoken by Colin early on in the film.
  • Left the Background Music On: Midway through the "Palo Alto" montage, the film cuts back to the radio show, where the song can be heard playing over the studio speakers as Phil drums along with his fingers. The scene quickly cuts back to the montage afterwards.
  • Mood Whiplash: During a photo shoot in Japan, there is a moment where the camera focuses on Thom's face amidst the increasingly louder snaps of cameras. For a second, the sound cuts out, leaving the audience staring at Thom as though he is a caged animal... and then the rest of the band is shown during another photo shoot, looking considerably less angsty about having their pictures taken.
  • Rockumentary: A very unconventional take on the genre, being more of a mood piece and psychological case study than a typical documentation of a band's history.
  • Troubled Production: Happens in-universe; the video for "No Surprises" ends up taking multiple takes to do as a result of it requiring Thom to hold his breath underwater and resume lip-syncing exactly on cue, and the arduousness of the task ends up leaving him increasingly agitated.
  • Wall of Text: The inner cover to the DVD release contains a fairly lengthy one, filled with an intentionally vapid motivational speech about coping with rejection, similar to the various faux slogans and motivational phrases found in the liner notes to OK Computer.
    If you have been rejected many times in your life, then one more rejection isn't going to make much difference. If you're rejected, don't automatically assume it's your fault. The other person may have several reasons for doing so: none of it may have anything to do with you. Perhaps the person is busy or not feeling well or genuinely not interested in spending time with you. Rejections are part of everyday life. Don't let them bother you. Keep reaching out to others. Keep reaching out to others. When you begin to receive positive responses, then you are on the right track. It's all a matter of numbers. Count the positive responses and forget about the rejections.

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