OurTube: The Fishman/Boeglin Perspective

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By: Jack Boeglin and Marc Fishman <perspectives@hilite.org>

In 2005, a small group of people created YouTube, a video-sharing Web site where anyone could sign up for a user account and upload their own videos for the whole world to watch for free. Now, just two years later, after being bought by Google for over one billion dollars, it has become one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet.

Presidential candidates are using it as a means of campaigning, students are embedding links onto their Facebooks for their friends to see, and random citizens of the world who most likely never would be famous are getting their own few minutes of fame with whatever funny, interesting, sad, educational, or pointless video clips they decide to make. On a recent afternoon, the HiLite’s very own Jack Boeglin and Marc Fishman sat down with, uh, themselves to discuss the tremendous popularity of YouTube and some of the problems that go along with it.

First of all, “Charlie the Unicorn”: hit or miss?

MARC: Absolute miss. I hate Charlie.

JACK: (Absentmindedly) Let’s go to the candy mountain Charlie. Yeah, the candy mountain. SHUN THE NON-BELIEVER…um…oh, hello there. What? Charlie the Unicorn? I thought unicorns died out years ago.

All right then, now that we’ve established your credibility, what’s your overall impression of YouTube as a media site?

JACK: On the positive side, YouTube provides an incredible amount of material, and anyone who wants to share their work can make it available to an audience nearly immediately.

MARC: The negative is that anyone who wants their work available can, which means YouTube is flooded with low-quality videos.

What do you find YouTube to be most useful for?

MARC: Well, I’ve personally found it as a nice way to avoid paying for specialty channels like HBO and Showtime seeing as I can watch full episodes of HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords” (in the three parts, mind you…but who cares?) or other obscure shows, thanks to all of the Internet creeps who are somehow able to obtain those episodes onto their computers and post them without getting in trouble. I’ve also found YouTube to be an excellent way to let the whole world see how good I am at playing Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” on electric guitar.

JACK: I’m better at “Canon” than Marc. See for yourself. I’m the Chinese kid with a bandana. Plastic surgery, you know..

Wait, so you’re saying you two are actually on YouTube?

MARC: Yeah, just type “funtwo” into the search bar on the Web site. His face is obstructed, so I don’t see why it couldn’t be me.

JACK: um…

I don’t really believe you. But do you think this is one of the problems of having a Web site like this, that some video can achieve worldwide popularity, even if it was posted by some random guy with a Web cam who can only be ID’d by his YouTube username or the blurry image of himself that the video depicts?

MARC: That’s definitely an issue to be raised. But at the same time, I think I would really have to ask you to kill me if YouTube ever honestly became the world’s serious source of stardom and entertainment. There are some excellent things to see on YouTube, but it can also be the absolute dregs of the Internet if you make one wrong click. And quite frankly, I highly doubt that the people who post themselves playing music or create questionable animations ever intend to become famous for them, anyway.

JACK: The bigger problem is when people pretend to be someone else.
How so?

JACK: Well, for instance, a fake ad purporting to be from Barack Obama appeared on YouTube. This didn’t necessarily hurt or help him, but it did give people an incorrect impression of Obama’s campaign.

MARC: The inability to judge whether things are accurate, or from the right source, can be potentially dangerous. It’s popularity could make dishonesty a potentially huge issue.
So what’s the point, really, of sitting there and wasting your precious (work) time on this Web site, if you can’t even trust the integrity of the material?

MARC: Well, even if it doesn’t provide any real professional entertainment, I think sometimes we’re just as happy to settle for a little less and get just as great a kick out of it as anything else. YouTube is much more raw and real, and that opens the door for several potentially interesting, hilarious or enlightening video clips. But as an answer to your question, well, you make a valid point, and I know at least I’m trying to change that habit.

JACK: My instructors wonder the same thing. However, I think the same point could be raised about all media, because, really, they all have similar benefits and drawbacks. All of them can turn you into hermits if you spend too much time on them, but they can be equally useful as catalysts for conversation. And who’s to say guilty pleasures aren’t worth the shame?

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