Friday, December 29, 2006

Generation Y-r-u-famous?

I don't like change. When I was ten, I was loathe to trade in our family's Mac Performa for a PC (mostly because I was afraid I wouldn't get to play Odell Down Under anymore). When I was 13, I wisely refused to abandon my Lee flared jeans (which I had to beg my mother to buy) when Jnco's came into vogue. I wore the same hairstyle--a pair of braided pigtails, trailing down my back like the twin ropes of a swing--from ages three to eleven. I ate the same lunch--a grilled cheese sandwich and a choco pie--throughout elementary school. Today, I own five black v-neck sweaters, seven tubes of the same reddish-lipstick, and four pairs of black flats.

I suspected this resistance to novelty might explain my irrational distaste for youtube, but then I thought about my enthusiasm for other forms of artistic democratization--music sharing networks, graffiti, blogging--and reassessed my hostility. Sure, I don't love watching video (or television programs) in blurry definition, but I did watch sixteen episodes of The Office on my computer in three days.

The Office, however, is a genius show, manufactured by the brilliant Ricky Gervais and a talented cast. With youtube, any schmo can become a star--Lonelygirl15 has a longer wikipedia entry than James Baldwin (although wikipedia itself is a product of the people, albeit one to whom I have sworn undying allegiance).

Herein lies the source of my stubborn antipathy. Even when music (filesharing), writing (blogs), dance (public performance), and the visual arts (graffiti) are democratized--when the middle man is removed, creation, production, and publication are compressed, and the arts acquire a sense of rawness and immediacy--they still necessitate some combination of talent and innovation in order to sustain an audience. No one is willing to sit through comically bad music, read awful writing, or look at crappy artwork for that long. But with video, that last, most current, most exploitable medium, millions are mesmerized and amused by crap that would draw blank stares if aired on the television. Low definition, it seems, breeds low standards.

If Generation X grew up on The Real World, where cast members were pre-selected for charisma and their daily existence was edited and moulded into compelling art, Generation Y is growing up youtube--unfiltered, uninventive, unimaginative.

5 comments:

The Chaunce said...

broad criticisms of the opinions in this article aside--it took you 3 days?

Anonymous said...

I have thought about this a bunch because web video has sort of been the bread-and-butter of our comedy group and been invaluable in getting our name out there.

That said, I think the whole web-video thing is in a first-motion-pictures stage of the game. When movies first came out, people were transfixed by films of other people doing very mundane activities. Replace doing the Charleston with lip-syncing to an Akon song and you basically have the web video craze.

- DC

yayce said...

whatever, i'm still starting a video blog... so yer just gonna have to deal, e.r.c. DEAL.

JD said...

you have been eaten by a striped bass!

elmrockcity said...

Jonny?