Fiona Maazel’s short story “Let’s Go to the Videotape” was written in 2016, and the setting is probably meant to be read as contemporary to the time of publishing as there is no indication of a different time period. Nick uses an iPhone with stabilisation technologies that have been developed only fairly recently (l. 12), and he uploads videos on popular contemporary social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook (l. 73).
The action takes place over the span of several days. The story begins on the day Nick and Gus take part in the televised contest and ends after the school removes Gus’ video project. The story also refers to past events in flashbacks, like the time before and after Nick’s marriage (ll. 37-38) and the accident which happened three years before the events of the story (l. 10).
The story is set in the United States of America. Nick and Gus live in Rhode Island: “Sent in by Nick and Gus Slocombe from Providence, Rhode Island” (l. 61).
The events of the story take place in various settings. Most of them are pretty normal, although the TV studio is not. The story begins inside a cramped studio where the America’s Funniest Home Videos TV programme is filmed: “The studio was warm. Sweat dribbled down the host’s neck, which someone kept blotting with a paper towel (…). The audience sat on padded bleachers arranged as if someone had tossed them there” (ll. 27-30).
We also get a detailed description of the setting in the biking video which Nick made of Gus. Unlike the studio, it takes place outdoors and only Nick and Gus are present: “Him filming his boy, who was riding a bike for the first time. A red-and-blue Spider-Man one-speed with plastic webbing and Spidey graphics arrayed along the frame” (ll. 1-3); “even as Gus’s tire snagged on a rock and he vaulted over the handlebars; as his helmet, which was too big, came down over his eyes like the curtain at show’s end; as he popped out of the bush where he had landed and turned around several times because he could not see” (ll. 16-19).
The story also takes place in Nick’s home, where he spends a lot of time chatting with the people who sent him friend requests after his victory in the video contest (ll. 88-89). Gus also films his video in his room, using his toys to re-enact the accident: “he sped two Matchbox cars across his bedspread, which was checkered in pictures of cars from multiple decades” (ll. 102-104).
The social setting of the short story “Let’s Go to the Videotape” deals with the way technology can affect human interaction and how the intent to commercialise things quickly can disregard people’s needs and feelings.
Use of technology and social media