YouTube Rant (NEH Magazine)

Recently, I have been writing more comment and opinion style pieces for NEH Magazine. It’s refreshing.

Below is the piece I wrote about YouTube in the August/September Issue of NEH Magazine.

YouTube Rant:

There are a lot of things I appreciate about Youtube.

Take for example the choreographed cooking episodes. Three words: Epic. Meal. Time. It’s obnoxious, arrogant and disgusting, which makes it magnificent content. Everything is prepared with Jack Daniels and a bacon weave, and they love to blow that “internet money”. Have you seen the girl from My Drunk Kitchen? Her self loathing is annoyingly entertaining as she hiccups her way through botched attempts at culinary instruction. Drunk Tacos is my favorite episode so far.

Boozing and cooking videos are just scratching the surface. Appreciate that you can find just about any song you want to hear with a quick search. If you’re looking for Phish, Widespread Panic or Wilco, or any band with a grandiose touring schedule, you may have to sift through multiple live versions of the song to find the studio cut you desire, but chances are it’s on there.

Youtube offers loads of useful information to someone that loves to travel. In Korea alone, the number of Youtubers who create specialized content on where to go, what to do and what to eat is too high to count. They have created their own pages, groups and communities on all of the social networking sites and even host bi-annual get togethers under the name Seoul Tube.

That said, I have a love/hate relationship with Youtube.

I was a live music aficionado before I moved to Korea. Irresponsibly, I whipped out my camera at most of these concerts and later uploaded it. I enjoyed watching the live footage that others put up there, why not return the favor? Because Bob Dylan, The Decemberists and the artist formerly known as Prince would object — that’s why. Might as well have been Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan and Mariano Rivera throwing the high heat because with Youtube, it’s three strikes and you’re out. I wasn’t even at a Prince show. The offending video was a Purple Rain cover by Mike Doughty at the Question Jar show at Mississippi Studios in Portland.

Making matters worse, because that old Youtube account was linked to a newer one through a mutually shared email address, both accounts were terminated. Not only was the offending account, inactive for years, removed; so was the newer and very active one. The latter, once crucial to my blog, was deleted for copyright infringement as well, even though its content was original. Lesson learned. Don’t mess with copyrighted material and always distinguish separate Youtube accounts with a unique email address.

That’s all in the past. Let’s focus on the now.

I’m sure the environment is similar elsewhere, but for relevance sake, consider what we have here in Korea. Some of the highlights from Korean Youtubers were mentioned above. To go along with the good, a lot of what the local community produces is egotistical, irritating and down right boring.

The videos where the creator is walking around his neighborhood, speaking directly to the camera pointed at his face — I don’t understand the appeal. The viewer has no understanding of what’s going on in the world around the Youtuber. All we get to see is the person’s eyes darting back and forth as he stumbles through his talking points. Of course the message is poorly delivered. Who can think straight with the impending doom of crossing the street ahead? Maybe it’s time to consider delivering your message free from multi-tasking, especially when the dominant task is surviving the onslaught of Korean umbrella-bashing contact on the sidewalk.

What’s worse? Video directions. They may appear to be a good idea when the standard left at the Paris Baguette, right at the By The Way, straight past the Pizza School and it’s next to the Kyo Chung Chicken on the left side of the road style directions won’t cut it. Unfortunately, because the Youtuber is babbling non-stop during the entire 10 minute jaunt from the subway station to the destination, they don’t cut out a thing. What’s the need for editing when what you have to say is so important? As a viewer, to get the information you want, you are forced to listen to their time sucking banter about the unique street art in Hongdae and why they prefer the Galaxy Tab to the iPad. I just want to know how to get to the Charlie Brown cafe. Spare me the rest.

This brings me to an observation about the Youtube community here. Much of the content is great, creatively brainstormed and executed well. But a lot of it space-wasting time filler. What confuses me is when the same Youtuber releases both the great and the garbage. What further perplexes me is why the creators of great content don’t acknowledge that the other stuff is junk. Both their own trash and other people’s. Why is this happening?

Careful deliberation has led me in the direction to two legitimate conclusions.

1) The Youtuber is so full himself, and loves to hear himself talk so much, that it clouds his vision of what is great and what isn’t crap.
2) The Youtuber avoids calling out the crap, so that other Youtubers will continue acknowledge how wonderful she is.

Let’s cut the crap. As an observer, it is easy to assume the only reason these people watch and share each other’s videos, leaving comments every step of the way, is to ensure that the same action will be reciprocated to them. Having a video on your channel without a glut of comments from your friends telling you how amazing your work is obviously makes you a loser. I do it for you, you do it for me. It’s like a giant cyber circle jerk of Youtube courtesy.

I’m fully aware that nobody is holding a gun to my head, forcing me to watch Youtube videos. Who do you think you are pointing out the flaws of others? If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

Truth is, I honestly enjoy a lot of Youtube content, from Korea and beyond. I’m just tired at sifting through the crap to find it.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on September 2, 2011.

7 Responses to “YouTube Rant (NEH Magazine)”

  1. Fact of the matter is that in the age of the internet, and as the web continues to evolve, this is (unfortunately) what we can expect. How could there be any other conclusion? Just look at the hoards of junk on youtube with hundreds of thousands of hits. People who produce real content get pushed aside. And rightfully so, because we as a society get what we deserve. And apparently, what we deserve is youtube.

    This is why websites like vimeo.com have popped up more recently to fill the cracks of lousy youtube videos. Vimeo is filled with artists and filmmakers who care about what they produce. One can find great content on vimeo if that’s what one is looking for..

  2. I don’t in any way take this personally, as I’m pretty sure this wasn’t directed at me, but I do want to respond to this line: “What confuses me is when the same Youtuber releases both the great and the garbage.”

    In my case, my music videos are far and away on another level from, well, everything else I put out, so I see a clear divide in quality and thus gravitated toward the line I quoted. In fact, I consider my subscribers some of the least loyal, because they only seem to wait for the big stuff and ignore the non-music videos. It’s certainly fair enough, given that it’s almost like I’ve combined two channels into one.

    I’m not going to label my own non-music video output as “crap,” but for the sake of clarity, let’s call it such, since most of the subscribers aren’t interested in it. Why I release this less special stuff is just to have a regular and constant output. It’s kind of me declaring, “Look, I can do regular stuff while I’m taking a month on the awesome stuff.” And there is an audience for it, albeit a much smaller one.

    Anyway, even though I know your comments weren’t directed at me, I’d appreciate if you did in fact tell me what you think of my quality divide, in regard to the line I quoted above.

    • Thanks for commenting. This was written as an opinion on Youtube in general. What one person considers great content, another may consider crap content, and vice versa. You are correct, this in no way is directed at anyone in particular. I can understand a Youtuber wanting to release all kinds of content. The same probably goes for most creative types. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone has to like it. Opinions are subjective, as you accurately pointed out by making reference to the audiences that are interested in your different projects. I’ve heard many creative types say that you should produce something for you, not for your audience, which is something it sounds like you are doing by having variety.

  3. Um, reply to this comment so I’ll get an email notification. =P

  4. To be honest, the big projects are “for me,” and the smaller ones for everyone else. Kinda weird, isn’t it.

    • As someone with a large following of fans that are interested in what you are doing, it makes sense to give the people a little something here and there between big projects. Whether they are interested or not, I suppose is up to them. We, the Youtube audience, can be such a tough crowd huh?

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