The Instagram videos that surfaced in the few hours immediately following the Supreme Court's historic ruling today that the Defense Against Marriage Act was unconstitutional aren't very good, per se, but that's why they're so great. The amateur clips uploaded to the week-old functionality and celebrating the decision are just that: raw iPhone videos, much like this one panning across an excited crowd outside of the courthouse. These Instavids don't have the same refined, instantly emotional grip of your standard filtered Instagram photo, like, say, the one pictured at right via user Silvia_Mick. And that would seem to make the growing case against Instagram video, which mostly relies on the argument that it's ugly. Except, really, these DOMA-inspired videos prove the exact opposite — ugly is real, and real is good.
So far — in its six days of existence — Instagram video has been panned by the tech elite. As Instagram aficionado Jenna Wortham wrote in a recent New York Times column: "Instagram isn’t about reality. It's about a well-crafted fantasy, a highlights reel of your life that shows off versions of yourself that you want to remember and put on display in a glass case for other people to admire and browse through." In other words, Instavideo is too real. But is that really a problem? Not today, it isn't. Not nearly.
The end of DOMA isn't a fantasy; it is as real as it gets, for millions of real people. And thanks to Instagram video, 90 million people can see and share a live version of the reaction outside of the Supreme Court, or at the Stonewall Inn, or all over San Francisco, or on the city streets of one of the many states where same-sex marriages will now be recognized by the federal government. Sure, these of-the-moment recordings aren't the most beautiful, but they capture brief moments of joy, as they unfolded — they're filtered, but they are emotionally filter-free.
In some of the clips we've surfaced below, you can even see the potential for Instagram video to turn amateur filming into something more — not quite YouTube, but then again, how visceral is YouTube these days?
Yes, these clips could use some sprucing up. But that will come with time. Look at how far Vine has come — when it first came out this Spring, everyone was terrible at it. And it wasn't really until the Boston Marathon bombings back in April that Vine had a real watershed moment, as horrifying as it was. And now, this week, in all the SCOTUS drama, even Vine made its way into the zeitgeist, with the running-interns meme that took over social media for insiders watching Pete Williams get the rulings with glee.
Instagram video has more potential than even Vine, though. In addition to the filters, which make everything look better, the Cinema Mode will "Will Make You Feel Like Martin Scorsese," explains Fast Company's John Pavlus, who is also a filmmaker. "Now I've got a Steadicam in my pocket. If Instagram made me feel good by making me feel like Ansel Adams sans the effort, Cinema mode makes me feel like Martin Scorsese--again, effortlessly," he writes. He proves his point with a little recreation of a famous scene from Goodfellas:
Most people don't have the same film background as Pavlus. But what took him a week to master, will take the masses a little longer. And then the next time a DOMA level moment to comes along, you can bet there will be a real moment captured on the video service for everyone to see and share.