YouTube Killed The Video Star (Introduction)
I’m not rich. I’m not famous.
But from 1991 to 1993, my suspense anthology Heart Attack Theatre aired every Friday at 10PM on channel 29 on Seattle’s public access TV. I wrote, directed, and edited every episode, and produced a new half-hour episode every week. And somehow convinced non-paid actors to over emote, and put them through degradations that rivaled a Japanese game show.
After that I made the Naked Gun of drag queen movies, La Cage Aux Zombies, and released it on home video in 1996. In between I also managed to crank out an experimental Twin Peaks-inspired film festival oddity, complete with promo music video. (And later created a pseudo-Reality TV pilot that didn’t really work after my star had his stomach stapled and lost 100 pounds.)
So a few years ago, I bought this thing called Dazzle Video Creator, and converted my old vhs tapes into digital clips, and posted them on YouTube. And realized three things:
1. Crappy video looks a lot better when it’s reduced to the size of a credit card;
2. People take simulated cocaine use way too seriously;
3. YouTube is the new Public Access TV.
Twenty years ago, the concept of something like YouTube was unimaginable. And if you were involved in any sort of indie video production back then, about 90% of your involvement was listening to people bitch about how they didn’t have access to camcorders, editing decks, scriptwriting software, NEA grants, film festival entry fees, distribution outlets, permission to use Jimi Hendrix music, and on and on…
And since I did my work with a clunky home video camera, edited the old-fashioned way without a computer in sight, and did it all in my spare time while working a full-time job, I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for the whiners. My philosophy was a little bit Nike, a little bit Larry The Cable Guy. Just do it. Git-R-Done. And I see that same spirit today on YouTube. In addition to all the conspiracy theorists, the Techno Viking remixes, and that baby biting his brother’s finger, I’m constantly impressed by this new breed. There’s Glowpinkstah and her Chola Makeup Tutorial (and her Whore Makeup Tutorial, and her Avatar Makeup Tutorial, etc.) There’s the freakishly fabulous music videos of Tonetta. And those Smosh guys and their millions of YouTube hits. There’s even Flutterific, a seven year old girl who reviews dolls and toys with as much poise and charm as any QVC host, with better production values than just about any video project I’ve ever churned out.
And yes, I am jealous.
[from the upcoming Videoteur.]