[This post originally appeared on my old WordPress blog. I am deleting that old blog so I have reprinted it here, today.]
One of the most recent crazes, or phenomena, I have been most underwhelmed by is the whole YouTube business. Because of all the fuss made about them, I did have various YouTube and Google video feeds in my feed reader, but I found after watching a handful of the same badly shot, poor quality films of people falling over in overly predictable ways I ended up just marking the items as read before even bothering to wade through them. This morning I removed those feeds altogether, deciding life is too short.
Then, I read this by The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw, who is – apparently – their film critic. I suppose I should start by saying that I am no great film fan, or even TV addict. Furthermore the kind of stuff Bradshaw witters on about: ‘ the lo-fi video aesthetic’, ‘ camera work with a deadpan surveillance feel’, ‘The Blair Witch Project‘ and so on, are all things I dislike intensely. I find wobbly cameras, extreme close-ups of people’s faces (known as nostril cam in our house), poor (or natural) lighting and all the faux amateurism currently fashionable in film, and TV, gets in the way of the narrative rather than enhancing it. Often making the whole thing unwatchable. For example, in recent TV I found both The Thick of It, and Green Wing, two programmes I would probably otherwise have enjoyed, totally unwatchable because of the camera trickery.
I suppose all this has been learnt from the amateurist ethos of punk. What starts out as a (refreshing?) change from what seems like the sterile professionalism of ‘the industry’ of the time ends up with us awash is a sea of poor quality mediocrity. It is all very similar to what happened to modern art in its self-defeating obsession with conceptual art where bland mediocrity that merely tries to provoke the knee-jerk ‘shock’ from the tabloids has become all-pervasive.
Nor did I ever find those TV programmes made up of home videos of people falling over, all that interesting. (So much in fact, I can’t think of the title of a single one I could link to as an illustration.) It seems to be this sort of thing, like the one of the poor woman falling down a cellar Bradshaw thinks is amusing, but then it must be funny (at least to a Guardianista because she is fat and therefore deserves it). As he says, ‘ It’s something in the way the woman disappears so utterly from view.’
Unless the article itself is some kind of elaborate (for the Guardian) pisstake on the whole internet video fad, and this is – indeed – the sort of thing that gets film buffs wetting their knickers then I am glad that I prefer not to bother with film, TV and, especially, YouTube all that much.
However, it does look like I will be – as usual – in a minority as it looks as though YouTube, and its imitators, are the future as the web moves away from a primarily written medium and merges with television in a world where increasingly the screen is becoming the only reality.