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Don’t knock YouTube

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Are you guys fans of viral video? Are you seasoned YouTube aficionados? Seekers of the next big thing in that popular genre known as “the ridiculous video of the week that everyone and their mom are watching?’

As the Scene Editor of this fine paper, I like to engage with you, fellow fans of Internet phenomena, with our quasi-weekly YouTube features that we post in the Scene spread. We’ll put together an amalgamation of quirky, ridiculous or punny videos for your benefit (and, to be honest, ours). The content can vary depending on which member of my staff is editing that night. Some of my favorites have been “Biz’s Beat of the Day,” a clip from the kids’ show “Yo Gabba Gabba” in which Biz Markie instructs your children on the fine art of beat boxing; “Snorlax Owns,” a curse-laden discussion of the merits of various Pokemon, particularly of the chubby and sleepy variety; and the well-known and oft-quoted “My New Haircut.”

Sometimes the YouTube features are influenced by working in the Observer Office itself. For example, if I’m working with our lovely Managing Editor, Jay Fitzpatrick, my video choices tend to lean towards the more absurd side of life. You can thank Mr. Fitzpatrick for our inclusion of “Barack Roll,” by the way. For those unfortunate souls who still haven’t seen this little gem, “Barack Roll” is an exercise in video splicing taken to the point of I-don’t-know-what. Clips of Barack Obama’s speeches are cut to precisely fit the lyrics of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” effectively allowing the president-elect to Rick-Roll the nation via Youtube. Note: There’s also a response video in which Senator McCain, speaking at the Republican National Convention and cueing a video, gets Barack Rolled by the actual “Barack Roll” video.

Intelligent stuff, I know. But, to all you intellectual snobs out there, those who think Youtube video viewing is a pedestrian past time – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

It’s easy to think that someone like me or you, young, college-going people who enjoy a façade of intellectualism, would spend their time with high art and museums. And granted, I like those things, as I’m sure you do, too. (Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about the hours you spend watching “Rock of Love: Charm School” on Vh1. Oh, wait. Oops.)

But when it comes to easy entertainment, I’m loving the democratization of video that you find on the internet. Where else can that Star Wars Kid from Canada find instant fame? Or what could amount to marathon viewings of that “Charlie bit me!” video with those British kids? Classic.

Sure, there’s a danger in spending all of your time on a laptop, instead of engaging with the outside world. But if staying inside one more time means I get to watch a clip of Joel McHale’s version of Britney Spears’ “Womanizer” on repeat, I’m on it.