Starring: Jack Rebney, Ben Steinbauer, Keith Gordon
Written by: Malcom Pullinger/Ben Steinbauer
Directed by: Ben Steinbauer
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If you’re a viral video aficionado, you’ve probably already seen “Winnebago Man” at least a thousand times, if not more. The five minute clip, comprised of outtakes from a Winnebago marketing video, featured its host named Jack Rebney seemingly having a meltdown, swearing up a storm and getting angrier as time progressed. If you haven’t seen the clip, then this review will mean nothing, so check it out below. Just as a warning though, it’s VERY NSFW.
Rebney became a sensation thanks to this video, first through tape traders and then eventually on the Internet thanks to YouTube. But who was this man? Could he really be that angry? Filmmaker Ben Steinbauer wanted to find out and the result is the 2009 documentary Winnebago Man which chronicles not only the search for Rebney, but the man himself once he’s found with a little commentary about viral videos in between. It turns out that Rebney essentially dropped off the face of the Earth in the years that followed this video, living in seclusion at a California ranch. When Steinbauer first meets him, Rebney is the complete opposite from what the viral video makes him out to be; in fact, he appears to be a kind old man who finds humor in the fact people loved these outtakes so much. Understandably, Steinbauer is sort of taken aback; apparently Rebney isn’t as interesting as he thought.
Luckily that isn’t the case or Winnebago Man would be ten minutes long; a few weeks later, Rebney calls up Steinbauer and completely lets loose on him. His smiling, quiet old man persona was just a schtick; it turns out Rebney is the Winnebago Man, dropping four letter words every other sentence. He’s also a bit of an eccentric, a well-read man who rails against modern society and the government especially. He doesn’t find humor in the fact people adore him for the Winnebago Man video; in fact, he detests these people. He thinks that his fans are simpletons who wouldn’t understand the real him. As the documentary unfolds, Rebney and Steinbauer go head to head repeatedly and eventually leads to Rebney’s first live appearance since the video became a sensation. Would his face to face interaction with his fans change his mind or would he destroy the legacy he didn’t want in the first place?
[Continue Reading at Man, I Love Films]