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In Which I’m Not Sure If It’s Me Or YouTube

February 17th, 2009 No comments

The axiom goes that comedy is tragedy that happens to other people.  For the most part, it’s true but I’m wondering if I’ve become a little…stodgy lately since I haven’t found the last couple of YouTube hilarities all that hilarious.

The danger (if that’s the right word) in talking about this lies in whether or not to link to what you’re talking about.  In the case of the epic “A woman missed her flight at the boarding gate HKIA”, the Huffington Post linked to it and, in what I assume was supposed to be some attempt at journalism, updated the the post to inform readers that since posting the video the YouTube traffic had tripled.  Gosh!  How did THAT happen?  Are they honestly suggesting that having one of the more popular websites linking to a video has any effect on that amount of people that watch said video?  Well, DAY-AM.  Who knew?

The difficulty lies in whether or not to link to it and increase its popularity.  In this case, my low-traffic, sporadic piece of cyberspace would have little or no effect on its popularity so it’s not much of an issue but I’m not going to link anyway.

Briefly – it’s three minutes of a Chinese woman freaking out (in Chinese) about missing her plane.  Three minutes.  How is this hilarious?  If somehow you happened to be there when it happened, I doubt you’d be ROTFL.  In fact, no one’s laughing on the audio.  She’s just pissed off.  Not even the person with the camera is laug-

Wait.  Person with the camera?  At the risk of getting too deconstructionist, let’s walkthrough what had to happen to get this to YouTube.

1) Woman freaks out
2) People watch her
3) Someone starts filming
4) Someone take video and transfers it to a computer
5) Edits the video
6) Crunches the video
7) Uploads the video to YouTube
8) “Hilarity” ensues

Think about it – a probable stranger posted a video of someone’s bad day and three million people watched it.  Maybe it’s just me, but that’s fucked up.  Is distress in a foreign language funnier than distress in your own?  I’m not going to lie – Chinese is really easy to laugh at.  I’m not proud of saying that, but as a white, middle-class America I’m pretty much programmed for it…kinda like Miley Cyrus.

But even that doesn’t explain why a parent would post a video of their kid whacked out of anesthetics for the amusument of strangers.  Or why ten million people, rather than forming a lynch mob and tracking said parent down, chose to foward the video onto their friends and laugh at this poor kid.  What have you got to be thinking to do that?  “Wow!  My kid is SOOO fucked up right now!  I’m gonna have to get this on tape rather than comforting him.  Hey!  This is some funny shit!  Let’s put this on YouTube!”

Thirty years agao, Paddy Chayefsky wrote a movie called Network which envisioned a world where the concepts of news and entertainment ceased to be delineated.  It was all entertainment.  Violent, revloutionary terrorists were given their own prime-time TV show, filming themselves committing terrorist acts.  The nightly news broadcast included an astrology report.  Anchors did not present the news but rather presented their commentary on the news.  Not to spoil the ending if you haven’t seen it, but the closing narration of the movie informs us that Howard Beale was the first anchorman to be killed because of bad ratings.

Much of what Chayefsky predicted has come to pass.  But he could have never dreamed up the odd, cruel entertainments of YouTube.  He would have been laughed out of Hollywood.

In Which It…Can’t Work!!

January 29th, 2009 1 comment

In Which No One Cares About The Sound Of One Hand Clapping

January 23rd, 2009 No comments

But you SHOULD care about the sound of a bunch of liberal putting together and album of great music to support Netroot Nations in Second Life.  Can’t make this year’s Netroots Nation conference this year for whatever reason?  I probably can’t either – why not attend online then?  It’s a helluva a lot cheaper if not free.

Of course, nothing is free so who’s gonna pay for it?  You can help by buying The Revolution Will Be Streamed on www.amazon.com. It’s an album (or CD or whatever you want to call it) of music donated by the Thinking Liberally crowd on Second Life.  14 songs for $8 AND you get to help out a good cause?  That’s not too bad.

And outside of the brilliant talent, you can hear Billy Bob Neck…umm…rapping.

In Which Very Few Of Us Are Family

January 5th, 2009 3 comments

I get blast emails from someone that starts them off “Dear Family”.  It makes me cringe because if I walked into the middle of that “family” I’m a part of, they’d look at me and say “what the fuck is he doing here?”

Have you ever watched a group of people dancing to We Are Family?  They don’t frequently make eye contact with their other family members.  Once the song is over they go back to being strangers.

The latest social media wrinkle comes in the form of someone simply trying to do a good deed in the online community.  She set in motion a chain that ended with the cops showing up on the doorstep of  another twitter she didn’t know…because she thought the woman was serious about “smothering” her child.

(I’m going to leave out the links because both of them are probably getting hammered…hit-wise, that is.)

Let me quote from the woman’s defense

I hope you will eventually cool off and realize that a lot of people you don’t know were very concerned for your welfare and the welfare of your children, and be glad that people out there care about you. I am truly glad that you’re all okay, and I hope you continue to be so.

Just on a practical level, if you don’t know me what basis do you have to make a call on what constitutes my “welfare”?  You don’t know my house.  You don’t know my living situation.  Maybe I’ve got an au pair in the next room.  Maybe I’m a crack addict.  Maybe I’m a crack addict with an au pair.

Paraphrasing her statement – “We’re all one great big family looking out for one another and someday you’ll stop being stupid and realize that.”

The whole statement reeks of condescension and self importance, as do many of the comments about “I don’t think it’s funny to talk about killing children”.  B-but I thought we were family and we agreed on everything.  Oh.  I get it.  We’re supposed to agree on your idea of family because it’s a much better vision of the way that you think the world should work.

Another great statement –

While it is certainly a shitty way to end the night, better to report any possible issues than to remain apathetic and risk a child being abused.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess he’s never lived in a poor section of town.  I’ve nearly gotten my ass kicked several times trying to stop a child from getting hurt.  And those were live people that I could physically see harming their kids, not some cyber-mom blowing off steam.  How many instances of reporting would it take for this to fall to the bottom of a cop’s priority list?

This woman claims she tried to contact the mother before setting the wheels in motion…but she didn’t write back. (!)  I guess that makes this whole thing the mother’s fault because she wasn’t sitting in front of her computer monitoring Twitter. [/sarcasm]

The fact is that “online comminities” are too fluid to be called that.  They are hotels.  They are clubs.  Sure, some folks stick around for the long haul, but many just stop in for a drink and some light conversation on the way to somewhere else.  The trouble comes when they honestly believe they have a crystal clear vision of surroundings they’re unfamiliar with.

A final point before I shuffle off this mortal…headache that I have: Parkinson’s disease makes you shake to the point where you can appear drunk.  This woman would have called the police on someone with Parkinson’s and then patted herself on the back as they hauled him away.  And thanked Jesus for the wisdom he instilled in her at birth.