Of all the things the Internet offered in its early days, video hosting was the most exciting. Instant Messaging, Social Networking and greater access to information (and porn) were all well and good, but the icing on the cake was video hosting. I can remember when there were ten or fifteen different hosting formats – Vimeo, Megavideo, Realplayer, Quicktime, Dailymotion, Hulu and so on. As is always the case with emerging technology, one became predominant – Youtube. Like VHS beating Betamax, or DVDs replacing laserfilm, one form became proprietary while the others steadily became obsolete, and thank god. Remember Realplayer? Why did we ever use that? It was awful.
And for all that, I can’t help but hate Youtube – in fact I hate it quite a lot. Don’t get me wrong, Youtube is host to an awful lot of good stuff; but it’s the bad stuff that makes me hate it so much. For every one of the awesome videos I’m about to post, there are a hundred thousand awful ones. If I browse Youtube for more than five minutes my brain starts repeating Sturgeon’s Law, named after Theodore Sturgeon, a sci-fi writer: “90% of everything is crap”. That law is as true as the Laws of Thermodynamics. Nowhere on the Internet does that law apply as heavily as on Youtube.
Partly, I think, it’s because the requirements of involvement are so low. All you need to become a Youtube “star” is a video camera and an account. These days, when even your toilet has a camera in it and Youtube is allied with Google, that’s not much to ask. The other thing is Youtube comments which, like message-boards on Newspaper websites, attract only the most insane and depraved people.
As for Youtube’s content, I’ll just say this. One day, in the distant future, there’ll be an immense obelisk of black granite standing in Trafalgar Square, and on it will be a sort of “Tomb Of The Fallen Idiot” list, chiselled into the living rock to remind future generations of how witless the Internet could be:
I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) – Sandi Thom
The Numa Numa Guy
Friday – Rebecca Black
Angry German Kid
2 Girls 1 Cup
The Annoying Orange
And on a certain bleak day in December, the whole world will go silent and face the obelisk, and marvel at the sheer stupidity that mankind can produce. New names will be added weekly, so that eventually the obelisk will extend into the heavens and poke god in the eye, causing him to become aware of mankind again and “do a Sodom” on us.
That’s the hope, anyway.
Meanwhile I thought I’d make my own list of videos I consider worthy of Youtube. It’s not a very long list, and it’s not very representative of anything, but these are videos I like and it’s my blog. I don’t have to impress you.
Here are the rules: no unedited clips from movies or unadulterated music videos, no “Downfall” parodies, and none of those “oooh, artist does something with post-it notes” videos, because I hate them.
Don Hertzfeldt’s “Rejected”
This is a long one to start off, and it requires a little patience, but it’s basically genius. Every single scene of this mini-movie shows some of the finest animated jokes ever. It’s surreal beyond belief and unbelievably quotable. it was nominated for an Oscar, and deserved to win. “You’re watching the family learning channel! And now, ‘Angry Ticks Fire Out Of My Nipples'”
Mary Poppins Recut : Scary Mary
The great thing about this video is it doesn’t have to work too hard to convince you Mary Poppins is a horror movie. I particularly like the bit where her reflection is different gives me chills, because I used to have nightmares that I would look into the mirror and see somebody pretending to be me. I think we forget how grim and scary kids movies can be. Remember the forest scene from “Snow White”?
Another great thing about Mary Poppins is the fan theory, first developed by Alan Moore, that she is the most powerful fictional character in existence. In the most recent “League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen” Mary Poppins is the avatar of god on earth, and defeats Harry Potter (and his magical lighting-shooting dick) in single combat. I think it’s something to do with the phrase “mother is the name for god on the lips and hearts of all children”. I dunno.
Also, i never get to use the phrase “magical lightning-shooting dick”. Heh heh heh.
A great song by a fairly obscure band, The Imagined Village, “Space Girl” is a pretty standard love song, catchy in its own way. What made it a great song is this fan video, pieced together painstakingly by some kind of sci-fi nerd genius. It’s clips from many, many sci-fi shows, and part of the reason it’s so good is that they’re not titled, so you have to guess them. Try it. I average about two-thirds. I think women are a little under-represented as real characters in sci-fi rather than vehicles for carrying boobs, and this video goes some way towards redressing the balance.
Withnail and Star Wars
Withnail & I quotes? Yup. Star Wars? Yup. Swearing? Yup. I mean, need I say any more. What’s genius about this one, as opposed to any other, is how well it’s done. C-3PO, the mild-mannered, cowardly robot, is a perfect vehicle for Richard E. Grant’s offensive, cowardly Withnail. This is cheating, really, because there are three of these and each one is brilliant.
And if you haven’t seen Withnail & I, shame on you. You’re missing out on the best British comedy film ever made. But you probably think that title belongs to “Love Actually”, you terrible person.
Jurassic Park Melodica
Anything that takes the piss out of John Williams is fine with me. My first year in university, a friend told me that the theme music to any film John Williams has scored is just the title said in a sing-song voice. Try it out: it’s an undefeatable theory. Jaws? Ja-aws.Jaw-aws.Ja-aws.Jawsjawsjawsjawsjawsjawsja-aaawwwws. Stars Wars? Star WAAARSS diddled-e STAR WARS diddle-de STAR WARS diddle-de-deee. Indiana Jones? Indi-aNAA (de de) Jooooooneees. CASE CLOSED.
Back to the video. Jurassic Park is a monumental classic of cinema and its theme is famous, iconic, and soaring. Hearing that badly done on a Melodica is funny in an anti-climactic way. Hell, you don’t need me to explain that, do you? Sam Neill’s fervent, impassioned “They do move in herds” at the end is funny, just because.
Some Babies Laughing
The Internet survives on cute during the lean months between memes and I prefer my babies as far away from me as possible, so the American Midwest (I’m guessing) is good enough. There’s eight of them, and their laughter is some kind of perpetual motion machine. It just keeps going. Babies laughing unlocks something dark and terrible in me called “compassion” and I usually need a stiff drink to calm down. Watch at your own peril.
Will It Blend?
Of course it’s going to blend. WE KNOW IT’S GOING TO BLEND. Blendtec makes its blenders out of dark magic and titanium, apparently. And that’s fine with me, because I get to watch things explode.