Mar 082011
 
Authors: Matt Miller

I sometimes play a game with my friends: Type two random words into YouTube and hit search. It’s easy, free and provides hours of entertainment for people with a short attention span and the maturity of a fifth grader.

One of my favorite word combinations: “McDonald’s Rampage.” Click on the first video you see, and through the magic of related videos you will be watching scene after scene of people so desperate for McNuggets they are smashing the drive- through windows and using Ronald McDonald’s arm to bludgeon the underpaid fast food worker.

YouTube has given me serious respect for the brave men and women of the fast food industry. They put their lives on the line every day to give us quick, reasonably priced food. Rest in peace, the brave souls we have lost in this plight.

Another good one –– “Crazy Russian.” Just try it. If you thought Stalin, the Soviet Union, Cold Wars, Siberia and “Crime and Punishment” were crazy, you’ll have a whole new view of Russians.

But sometimes these seemingly random, useless videos become cultural phenomena. They become so popular that a guy from the housing projects of Alabama, who said in a news broadcast for people to “hide your kids, hide your wife,” has a Billboard Top 100 hit and a tour that even came to Fort Collins in February.

In May of 2007 a little-known video called “Charlie Bit My Finger –– Again” was uploaded and, as of today, has 289,026,032 views.

This video, which depicts a 1-year-old English boy biting the finger of his older brother, is the top video on YouTube. The number of people who have watched it is more than four times the population of the United Kingdom itself.

I love the antics of quirky Englishmen as much as anyone else, but why have almost 300 million people viewed this video since it was uploaded in May of 2007?

Could it be that the randomness of everyday life is funnier than scripted network television? (Maybe that explains why “America’s Funniest Home Videos” has been running since 1989).

Or maybe the Internet is the perfect marketplace for unstable people to broadcast the stupid things they do in hopes of achieving their 15 minutes of fame?

One thing is certain. We give it to them.

But is this a bad thing? For every person trying to jump off a roof into a pool and for every person doing a terrible rendition of a Lady GaGa song, there is an independent filmmaker getting his or her film out to the public, or an upcoming band building a fan base by streaming their music on YouTube.

Just last night Campus MovieFest, a world-touring student movie festival, came to CSU and provided students with the equipment to make their own short films. These films were then embedded onto the CMF website using YouTube.

YouTube can share culture just as much as stupidity.

The video site can even be a place to learn. Users can find TED Talks, product reviews and tutorials on everything from Parkour to Ukulele.
The videos on YouTube have helped share the protests in the Middle East. Footage shot in the fray of riots with camera phones was uploaded onto YouTube to be instantly spread across the world.

On Monday YouTube, which is now owned by Google, announced that it would pay less than $50 million for a company called Next New Net Networks in an attempt to provide professionally produced content.

Hopefully this move won’t get in the way of the tried and tested formula that has given YouTube nearly two-thirds of all online video views.
It is supply and demand. Internet users demand to have the ability to, on a whim, access any video.

For now, YouTube is still a place to exercise our freedom of speech –– a place to spread the intelligent, the creative, the stupid and the unnecessary.

And if you just want your time in the limelight, just make a video and title it, “Cutest kitty plays with laughing baby and boobs” and people will be drawn to it faster than Charlie Sheen is drawn to a mountain of cocaine and hookers. Thanks, YouTube. Don’t ever change.

Entertainment Editor Matt Miller is a junior journalism major. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to verve@collegian.com.

Check this out:

Battle: Los Angeles –– It comes out on Friday. It might suck, but dang it looks awesome.

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