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YouTube: Sorta Cool, Sorta Not
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
Because I’m not too computer literate, I couldn’t watch YouTube videos on my laptop until several months after I bought it. I finally figured out how to install Flash Player and right after I found out the installation was successful, I went right back to YouTube and started searching.
I soon discovered YouTube videos are basically like blogs: people’s personal expressions horribly expressed. Okay, some videos are actually funny, like the Star Wars Gangsta Rap with lyrics and subtitles, and the Elmo and Tigger Sex (which is actually less disgusting than it sounds). But in just watching a handful of videos, the whole concept of everyone as his or her own film director makes me thankful for people named Spielberg, Lucas, and Hitchcock.
But then, I’m damn near impossible to please. Although I don’t like Justin Timberlake, I do like his song, “Sexyback.” I watched the video on YouTube, and while my foot was tapping, my brain was saying, “just what the $%@# does this mean?” As Dick Clark might say, “it has a good beat and you can dance to it,” but I thought the video was a mess. That’s why when we finally got MTV, I never watched it. The videos made no sense whatsoever, but then I like images that are literal, or at least with metaphors that make sense. If you are singing about falling in love with the girl next door, four minutes of you stuffing your face with cornflakes makes no sense with what’s being sung. Logically, you could have some shots of the guy who is singing looking out the window at the girl next door, maybe he makes a mix tape for her and puts it on her doorstep, rings the bell and then runs off, like Pedro did with the cake in “Napoleon Dynamite.” That, at least, would make sense.
One of my dreams was to get into the world of advertising. Commercials, and to a lesser extent, print ads fascinate me, as long as they are good. You can find banned commercials on YouTube, and one that I’d seen before was advertising a language school. A family gets into a car and starts it. The radio comes on, with a techno song with the chorus expressing the singer’s desire to participate in a risqué sex act. Having no idea what they mean, everyone in the car starts smiling and getting into the song. At the end of the commercial, the words “Wanna learn English” show up on the screen in subtitles. Then, there’s the 7-Up commercial when a scary/sexy looking guy offers a girl a 7-Up. He produces two straws, puts them in the bottle, and just when they both lean forward to take a sip, the girl headbutts the guy and walks away with the whole drink to herself. Why was it banned? Probably because of the headbutting. But it was nice to see her get the drink. I wholeheartedly agree with the tagline: “now, that’s refreshing.” You go girl! As a popaholic, I can understand wanting to beat the crap out of someone for just a few sips of Coca Cola.
Then, there are the slaps at people/things/institutions. The “Mom and Pop Vs. Walmart” was good for a chuckle. A Walmart gets nuked, ironically enough by a device they sold to Pop, and it’s set to the tune of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”
There’s plenty of sobering videos as well. I took a trip back in time to watch footage of the World Trade Center disaster and to watch the Space Shuttle Challenger blow up again. One chilling slice of film showed “teacher-in-space” runner-up Barbara Morgan watching the Challenger take off, the footage looking ancient. That was probably my generation’s “where were you moment,” although the World Trade Center attacks had the same effect. In both events, people died, and it was broadcast on live television. With the Challenger, we didn’t really expect it. It’s like, ho hum, another shuttle lift off. The smoking ruin of the first tower hit by a plane was unsettling; but did anyone expect another one to crash into the other building? But there it was. And thanks to some French filmmakers, we had footage of the first plane hitting the first building. That looked like a mistake, but the second plane was sheer drama—crazy angle, pure kamikaze. At the time, I slept through it all but when I finally emerged from the house, I was informed of the attack by a stack of newspapers carried through a store by an employee. The headline was huge. Suddenly a message on a sign owned by a local business made sense. “May God have mercy on us,” or something to that effect. I spent the rest of the day watching television, having those images pounded into my head over and over again.
Sure, most of YouTube is shlock, but occasionally you find gems. And there is, of course, images of history we wish we’d never seen in the first place. But finally I can join the rest of the world and see the videos everyone else is talking about.
Now, if I can just trust myself to download digital music and get an MP3 player.