Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Future is Here.

Andy Warhol once made a prediction that in the future everyone would have fifteen minutes of fame. The future has arrived in the form of youtube. There are many other streaming video websites on the Internet that follow the same format, some of them are much better, like megavideo or tvlinks, but none have been so pervasive as the google-owned youtube network.

A perfect example of the “ten minutes of fame” theory is the self-directed video by Gary Brolsma lip-syncing to the song, Dragostea din tei by the German band O-Zone. If you type “singing guy” into youtube’s search engine, this video is ranked number one out of 19,000 singing guys. Brolsma’s low-quality, homemade video caught the attention of so many fans that hundreds of parodies have been made in response. It became so popular that a new phrase was coined, the “Numa Numa” dance. Brolsma’s fame prompted him to make a higher quality follow-up video called New Numa.

Amateur directors have received their mark of fame on youtube as well. Millions of songs have been re-imagined by digital camera owners with delusions of grandeur. The Tony award-winning Broadway play, Avenue Q includes the song, “The Internet is for Porn.” This clever song about the “real” use of the Internet has been parodied by a number of directors, but the best one is the World Of Warcraft parody. It comes from a website called, but the youtube version has been added by over 200 fans. It is well done and hilarious to see characters from the video game doing their own Numa Numa dancing to the song.

Celebrities have also had their hands in the proverbial cookie jar of youtube. Will Ferrell, co-creator of the video website stars in the Adam McKay directed short film called, “The Landlord.” Ferrell had an uncomfortable confrontation with his drunken landlady played by two-year-old baby, Pearl. The original short has since been removed for copyright reasons, but the parodies go on and on. Clark Duke and Michael Sera wrote and stared in the TV shorts series, “,” a CBS experiment with internet-only show releases. The ten-minute shorts are delicious morsels of comic genius that can all be found on youtube, as well as some post-show revisits and some great stand-up work by the duo.

Before youtube gained so much popularity, you could watch a whole episode of your favorite TV show. You had to watch it in ten-minute increments, but it was worth it to see funny BBC sitcoms that hadn’t made it to the United States in any other way. The latent fame of shows like “The IT Crowd” has since prompted the BBC to make them available on DVD to us.

By far the best reason to visit youtube is the music videos. There is almost no stone unturned when it comes to the millions of bands posted. The live performances are some of the most rare glimpses at bands that you may never see play live. Lipcream is a Japanese hardcore punk band that started in 1983. You can find videos of this band playing live back in the mid to late 80s. Obscure bands can be found on youtube as well, including your friend’s brother’s band that you saw play at the local bar last week. If you just want to watch funny music videos, White and Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic is a hit. Yacht Rock is a series of shorts that makes fun of easy-listening musicians such as Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.

Youtube is one of the Internet’s greatest achievements, allowing amateurs and professionals to share the limelight in a vast sea of time-wasting ten-minute clips. So you had better get busy if you want your fifteen minutes of fame (or ten).


Michael J. Fitzgerald said...

Excellent use of the Andy Warhol prediction, though I am fearful that Warhol's name is fading in memory for most people younger than probably, um, 40...?

But it was an excellent way to launch into the theme of shortlived fame, followed up nicely with plenty of examples to back up the major points.

Whether YouTube is one of the internet's greatest achievements remains to be seen, but reading this column - and seeing the breadth of postings and their popularity - well, it's well worth a column.

Good job - and nice choice of YouTube videos to include.

Mr. Althouse said...

I never read the other posts until I have written my own. It was therefore strangely gratifying to see we had the same take regarding Any Warhol. Great minds think alike? I'd have to say so...


Lacey said...

*sqeee* Spread the IT Crowd love. Oah, yeah. :)

Too bad the new one isn't as funny as the original... well, maybe it will just need some warming up, eh?