Last week, I heard about and then viewed a 17-minute YouTube video recorded at Wiscasset’s town office. By the time I saw it, the channel, “Accountability For All,” with 112,000 subscribers, showed the video had 26,000 playings, or views; by press time this week, it was up to 29,000.
I thought as part of covering Wiscasset, and given the video’s location and title, “DON’T FILM ME CHIEF TAKES WALK OF SHAME! 1st AMENDMENT AUDIT!” I should view it in case a story emerged from it or its popularity.
It turned out to be the filmmakers’ interactions with one town employee after another, and overall, to me, at least, was like one of those movies you hope is about to wrap up, but it just keeps going, like Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin,” the only Spielberg movie I did not like, due to its tedious pace. In the video recorded at the town office, the staff, from Town Clerk Linda Perry to Tax Collector Sue Anderson and Police Chief Larry Hesseltine, were polite and helpful, like I always have found them and like I have always seen them being toward others. The lone potential error I noticed came early on, when Anderson said, “You can stop filming.”
As a public space, I did not see where video recording is barred there, but Anderson used no confrontational tone and did none of the cliche blocking of the camera lens with her hand, or any such thing. She just said, still smiling, “Excuse me” as she passed them to head back to her desk. So although it might have been preferable for her to not say it, what the filmmakers did after, including – as they or anyone can – requesting what Anderson and the chief make for income, felt stilted. We get it, you found something to latch onto as a First Amendment issue, and you were going to make the point, at length, ad nauseam, including your version of Hesseltine’s interactions with you and the staff.
I did not mind that a filmmaker pronounced Wiscasset without the first ‘s.’ Anyone can mispronounce a town they are visiting. But nor was I offended by the office signage that appeared to surprise the filmmakers: “Please come up to the counter so we can see you” and “Employees only, beyond the chain. Please ask for assistance.” Sounds smart, the kind of security that makes sense at any government office in 2023.
It is good the video got so many views, and let us hope it gets yours and thousands more, at least. Why? Not because I recommend it for the entertainment value. I do not, unless you like to be bored and then be bored and mystified, then just bored some more until it finally ends. No, the reason to sit through it, or maybe exercise through it if you can safely do so to best use your time, is to best see how you think the staff handled the time the filmmakers were there.
I give the staff all credit for how they handled themselves, and Perry should get a patience and professionalism award. But see what you think.
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