Viral video analysis has practically become a national sport, a bleak pastime with a heritage that’s equal parts John Madden football telestration and shaky cell-phone footage of black men getting killed by police.
This week, Missoula got into the game when a late-night customer at the downtown Pita Pit posted a video showing an altercation with an employee. Naturally, the video went viral, and soon online outlets across the world were writing about the Woman Who Spit In A Pita.
Fox News: “In the recording, the customers are heard ‘daring’ the employee to ‘do it’ moments before the woman spits in the pita sandwich she is making.”
The Daily Mail: “The customer then jumps onto the deli counter and throws food at the woman, who throws the wrap back at her and says: ‘Yeah, come at me. Why don’t you get outta here?’”
The Missoulian: “Another employee standing nearby is shown calmly preparing another sandwich. The video then ends.”
The 30-second clip had it all, from build-up to climax to denouement. Plus, it blends aspects of classic viral genres including the cat fight, the Black Friday shopper brawl and the angry restaurant receipt missive. There were the subtle details, such as the steam rising from the pita warmer, and the fire-engine-red tray of diced peppers, which look genuinely appetizing until they’re contaminated by the bottom of a customer’s purse.
But Pitagate may not even be the Montana video of the week.
On Monday, Republican senate candidate Troy Downing released a television ad titled “Trumpeter or Trump Supporter.” The ad shows Downing, a combat veteran, climbing into a fighter jet before cutting to a Jon Tester lookalike playing trumpet on a tractor in a field. The ostensible dig is that Tester was an elementary school music teacher, while Downing is a “warrior” who supports Trump. To drive the comparison home, the spot ends with a military jet flying so low it knocks Tester backwards.
Tester’s team responded by posting footage of the senator dusting off his trumpet and playing “Taps” in his house. Downing wasn’t impressed; he responded with a tweet shaming Tester for using Taps for political gain. But Tester’s amateur video has the edge. All it was missing is a shot of the senator emptying his spit valve.