Why Youtube is like the Force

Actually, it’s not so much like the Force as it is the Schwartz.

Colonel Sandurz: But your ring! Don’t you have the schwartz too?
Dark Helmet: No, he got the up side. See, there’s two sides to every schwartz. He got the up side, I got the down side.

Let me just say right now: I love Youtube. Every time I see my cable TV bill, I have a little moment where I seriously ask myself why I’m still paying for it. As a child of the Eighties, Youtube is my MTV; it is everything that MTV could have been if, back in the early 90s, someone took a real stand for humanity and said “The Real World, huh? Get the fuck out.” Did you know that MTV still plays videos? They do. Finding them is a little like trying to find your cell phone after you’ve dropped it into that toilet from Trainspotting, but they actually do show videos for a half-hour or so each day. Let’s just say they don’t, it’s easier. But Youtube isn’t just that. It’s also my go-to for my Holy Shit That’s Funnier Than I Remember It Being, my What the Fuck Is Going On Here, the list goes on without the slightly icky feeling of reading a TV Guide. I fucking love it.

Look… there’s a song out there by someone named “Peaches”. The song is called, well, “Fuck The Pain Away”. Now, I’d never heard it before. I’d never even heard of it before. But if you’re going to hear a song called “Fuck The Pain Away”, you might as well hear Miss Piggy sing it, because really, life is too short. Youtube provided this to me the other day. NSFW, obviously.

Youtube has also made available some incredibly clever independent shorts, like here and here, things that you wouldn’t ever find on the ol’ (and it is old, like sagging) boob tube. And to top it off, it singlehandedly made Rick Astley a household name again! So you could say that Youtube is kinda like the Force in that it is truly awesome in many ways. Like this:

Little Green Ninja

Yes, the Star Wars prequels may have been the cinematic equivalent of two midgets having rough sex on your favorite R2-D2 bedsheets, but when it comes to Yoda kicking ass, well… are you going to choose the majestically boring sight of Luke’s X-wing gliding through a smelly bog from Empire or the spastic green fury of Episodes II & III? So there’s your up side.

But there’s always a down side. Yin and yang, light and dark, good and bad, plain and with almonds. Having a nice green lawn but having to spend more money dumping water on it. Being a fan of Jeremy Irons but having to deal with him showing up in stuff like Dungeons & Dragons. Or, my new favorite example, eating a South American fruit called a cherimoya. Some people liken the flavor to a combination of banana, pineapple, and strawberry, or even bubble gum. Doesn’t that sound awesome? But the seeds are poisonous, and the skin can apparently cause paralysis for up to five hours.

So don’t eat the skin. Similarly, don’t read the comments on Youtube video pages.

On Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, an exchange between two viewers:

didnt this guy die?

unfortunately yes
and don’t refer to Kurt Cobain as “this guy” it’s offensive

What’s really offensive is when you load a video and end up in this hapless situation, from an Eddie Izzard clip:

Argh, I’ve got to resize my browser window! Too many times I’ve opened a Youtube clip only to have the jokes ruined by knuckleheads while it’s loading!

Ever had someone “tell” you the latest “Dilbert” or “Opus” strip instead of just showing you the damn thing? How about someone trying to describe to you what was so funny about a George Carlin bit by imitating him? Usually badly? There is something so ridiculous, so profoundly stupid about people quoting a video that’s right above their comments. But I suppose, what else are they supposed to do? Debate the effects of global warming on bowtie-wearing penguins? So maybe there would be something worthwhile in the comments of say, Barack Obama’s speech on race back in March. And on first glance, there is!

Until you realize that half of the comments are about how the “title” of the speech — “A More Perfect Union” — could be worded better, and how half of those people are telling the other half that it’s from the U.S. Constitution.

The all-time most viewed video on Youtube is something called “The Evolution of Dance”. It’s a stand-up comedy bit that showed up on the internet about two years ago and has currently been viewed over 85 million times. By comparison, the most popular Rick Roll video on Youtube is topping out at slightly under 13 million. “The Evolution of Dance” is a funny piece of physical comedy, and is actually rather wholesome and family-friendly. It also probably shocked the hell out of the creator, an inspirational speaker named Judson Laipply, when the weirdly finicky internet snapped up his video.

There are dissenters, of course:

WHY WOULD 80 millions ppl watch this shit!!!

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, “70% of YouTube’s registered users are American and roughly half are under 20 years of age.” So it’s kind of like listening in on the idle chatter of the American TV viewing public — the reason why the Nielsen ratings shoot straight up with every season premiere of American Idol — which is frightening enough. There’s also another statistic there which is particularly mind-blowing:

YouTube videos take up an estimated 45 terabytes of storage — about 5,000 home computers’ worth — and require several million dollars’ worth of bandwidth a month to transmit.

Think about that for a second. All those ridiculous, barely comprehensible comments attaching themselves to videos like retarded barnacles are actually costing somebody money. Yeah, of course every website out there is costing someone something, even this one, which in an ideal world wouldn’t cost anything, but sometimes you just have to stop and gape in wonder. We live in a world where posting “LOL shes old” on a Madonna video enough times will amount to actual dollar signs in an accounting database somewhere, at the same time farmers in India are killing themselves over owing debts as little as $1,000.

This is the down side of Youtube: you can find the coolest shit on there, things that brighten your day with a laugh or make you go “Huh. How about that.” But it is also one of the best arguments for wearing a pair of psychological horse blinders whenever you fire up the trusty internets, because lurking on nearly every page of Youtube are things that will crush your soul and make you wish someone really attractive with a Scottish accent would just hack three of your limbs off (but conveniently miss your Erector Set arm) and leave you to burn like the blubbering pile of emo that you are:

Ol' Daddy Skywalker

Or if you prefer: DO NOT WANT.


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