Go For It, Mike

Michael Smith's videos focus more on the performance and content aspect than technical breakthroughs or creativity (most likely a result of the influence of performance art on his video works). Most, if not all, of his videos involve a narrative of some sort.

In Go For It, Mike, Smith's "Mike" character appears in a satirical music video, somewhat similar to a format that may be used by videos appearing on MTV. However, the song In Go For It, Mike accompanies the visuals, like a soundtrack, rather than the visuals portraying the meaning or purpose of the music.

In the video, Mike, a college student, takes the advice of his college classmates, who urge him to "go for it" through song lyrics. Mike takes the American ideal (myth?) of Manifest Destiny and applies it to the modern world, becoming a real estate developer. The video's ironic and satirical twist on this age-old American concept is used to comment on the irrationality and absurdity that the average American could expect to rise from "rags to riches." According to the Electronic Arts Intermix, Mike "re-envisions the myth of the American Dream via 1950s-style cultural cliches, advertising and Reagan-era media propaganda" (n.d.).

Going along with the theme of many of Smith's other video works, a second take on the video might suggest that Go For It, Mike plays off of the influence that television has on our lives. According to the Video Data Bank, Mike is an "unassuming television anti-hero, the figure thousands of television viewers rely upon to ‘Go for it!" for them (n.d.). Mike represents the television star role model that many Americans look up to as an ideal.

In Go For It, Mike, Michael Smith uses his usual regular-guy "Mike" character to comment on the mindset of many people in contemporary American society, as well as the impact television has on the culture. Mike is respected for his "success," and has a similar impact as a television hero might. In real estate, Mike ignores the needs of the people living on the land, and uses "manifest destiny" as a justification for his developments (Video Data Bank, 1986; www.thekitchen.org).

--Kevin Munn, 2003

Michael Smith