Actor Paul Walker's tragic death continues to dominate headlines this week, from the coroner's report listing his cause of death (unsurprising yet sadly gruesome) to the mystifying ongoing questions of whether the Porsche he was riding in was going too fast (I'm not saying it's not worth investigating what happened on Saturday, but did you see what the godawful wreckage looked like? I'm going to go way out on a limb and say the speed issue is probably not up for debate at this point). The latest wave of news comes in the form of a viral video, thanks to the Fast & Furious YouTube page.
Universal Studios has released a tribute to Paul Walker, and it's being described as "heartbreaking" and "beautiful." It's racked up over 1.6 million views as of this writing, and it's ... well, it's a really nice video. The soundtrack is fantastic (Skylar Grey's "I'm Coming Home"). There are lots of great shots of Walker.
It's also, undeniably, a two-minute ad for the Fast & Furious franchise.
I know, I know. What kind of monstrous asshole criticizes a tribute video? I'm trying to be delicate here, but there's just something about the video that makes me kind of sad for how Paul Walker will be remembered. Check it out:
It's a lovely video, right? Nicely edited, great music. Even if you're not a huge fan of the movies and you didn't know much about Walker, it's the sort of thing that makes you feel a little choked up.
Which is why it feels a little ... exploitive? Maybe that's too strong of a word. I feel like the fact that they only included movie footage, rather than even a single offscreen moment, ties Walker's persona to his Fast & Furious character as though he didn't even have an identity outside of the franchise. There are lots of nice moments of Walker in the video, but it feels less like a tribute to him in particular and more like a commercial for the movies. Even the Vin Diesel-delivered dialogue about how important family is seems manipulative. Walker had a family, a daughter, but this video is all about the guy he played on the big screen.
I understand he probably really was like family to the cast and crew, but this wasn't something Universal made and released internally as a private memorial. It was designed to go viral, to be shared among fans, and to create more loyalty to the franchise. The best thing about the clip, in my opinion, is the fact that Walker's friends and family are able to use it as a vehicle to share this message:
Paul Walker's family appreciates the outpouring of love and goodwill from his many fans and friends. They have asked, in lieu of flowers or other gifts, that donations please be made to Paul's charity Reach Out Worldwide (ROWW). Donations can easily be made through their website at http://www.ROWW.org/.
What do you think of Universal's tribute video to Paul Walker?
Image via Universal