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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

So, this is YouTube?

I finally joined the masses, and registered at YouTube. I’ve discovered some disturbing realities, not the least of which is that finding us on the trail to the existence described in 1984 is a tad startling. Less dramatically, most of the shows I got to know via reruns that have stuck with me apparently did so because of an attractive actress much more so than for the quality of the show.

I’m also ready to admit I have an addictive personality. I’m pretty sure I’ve found all of the Laverne & Shirley clips with a young Cindy Williams to ogle available, but I keep checking back. Go ahead, laugh, but someone took the time to post Betty, Please and a bunch of others. Actually, only a few others, which kind of sucks. And whoever posted this commercial with Williams wasn't doing it to preserve cinematic art.

Of course, I’ve read that YouTube recently wiped out a bunch of copyrighted stuff. Clearly, someone’s about to try to charge us to watch these clips. I understand that. What I don't understand is how this got to where it is.

YouTube invites you to “Broadcast Yourself.” I can see anyone looking to break into any form of showbiz jumping on the offer. Anyone looking to cheaply market a business would seem into it. But unless I'm way off, that's not what let's people lose hours upon hours on YouTube.

There seems to be plenty of video “blogs,” like this from PianoKeySurfer. There's a ton of exhibitionists, like this a guy who is double jointed. Random looks found
cheerleader bloopers, a funny beer commercial from Denmark, and a PMS survival guide.

I'm sure I could learn to post clips. But why the hell would I want to post a clip, even if it's very easy, unless I'm the guy about to charge everybody to watch these clips? I clearly already have it, and the ability to save it on my computer. Why do I care if everyone else sees it?

I mean, is Adam Sandler's Thanksgiving song something important? I'm happy to have easy access to Phil Collins' Sussudio video, but why did someone post it?

Some things seem to give YouTube a potential purpose. Michael Richards losing his mind and his apology is available, and there's at least an argument to be made that this is a way to expose things without merely hoping the media picks it up. While we all no doubt feel better that “Kramer” will get to the “force field” of racism, I wonder if the connection to 1984 this suggests balances out the positive of offering people the ability to broadcast almost anything.

I'm not defending Richards; only a fool would. But let’s say he was caught on a home video making a racist joke, and the owner of the tape doesn’t like him so he posts it on YouTube. Is there anything wrong with that? Someone sees a guy who is momentarily flipping out on a kid, though no more than yelling occurs, and has the camcorder rolling. He posts it. We still good? The kid next door films you having a spat with the spouse in your own backyard, and posts it. Far-fetched? I think so, too, but it could happen.

Someone has already developed YouTube Theatre, mocking the lame videos, and it’s pretty much the best original video I’ve found so far. So maybe YouTube eventually ends up as little more than the local, more accessible, TV station that only cost a few bucks to get amateur shows on the air.

Having discovered YouTube, I’m guessing there’s no turning back. It’s entertainment, and there’s worse things than checking in on old sitcoms. Now and then, the news will no doubt draw me to a video or two. I’ll pass on the video blogs, bad parodies, and even worse burgeoning “talent” convinced they actually have talent in need of discovering. I’ll also keep wondering why non-showbiz hopefuls post, and if we’re merely helping erode our own privacy that we fear the government is the one stealing.

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