A Series of (You)Tubes

September 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

YouTube, everybody!

As I mentioned the other dia, I have 100 94 selections to muscle through before my final actual last GD exam, jesus. The process for orals is different than the breadth lists, is more about thematic connections than specific textual detail (not that I don’t need some of that too, but the exam is framed as a conversation as opposed to a time-crunched written thing), so each selection will just get a keyword summary (for quick scanning in the direct lead-up to the exam) which I’ll then follow with a more open-ended discussion about some related question or counterpoint or whatever I feel like, it’s my dumb blog & I’ll do what I want.

Youtube, Jean Burgess and Joshua Green (with contributions by Henry Jenkins and John Hartley), 2009

The business of meta-business! Participatory culture! Circulatory value! Embed that shit! Reeeemiiixxx! Grassroots! Astroturf! DMCA! Generativity! Vlog your heart! Bullies and flames! lonelygirl15! You nostalgia you lose! To YouTube or not to YouTube! I see white people!

Mark Andrejevic, “Exploiting Youtube: Contradictions of User-Generated Labor,” The YouTube Reader (2009)

Intellectual property rights! Desire for control! Divergent conceptions of value per a highly convergent medium! The question of exploitability! “The interactive information economy” wherein interactive participation runs up against entrenched economic models!

Malin Wahlberg, “YouTube Commemoration: Private Grief and Communal Consolation,” The YouTube Reader (2009)

Memorial video tributes! Vernacular memory! Online grief culture! An American phenomenon stemming from funeral as mega-industry! “A Grotesque Corpus of Sentimental Kitsch!” Cancer and suicide = most popular! Formal consistency! “Perverse voyeurism!” The problem of bullycide! WAIT A SECOND, SOMETIMES AGGRESSIVE NON-COMPASSIONATE RESPONSES?????

Patricia G. Lange, “Videos of Affinity on YouTube,” The YouTube Reader (2009)

Attention as (social) capital! Metrics of (temporal) value! As expressed through the creation/consumption of “videos of affiliation!” Micro-negotiations of attention! Via online affinity frameworks! And emotional interpolation! Home-mode communication! Phatic/contact communications! (Dis)embodied self-referentiality!

So those were my readings, now let’s sit by the fire and chat hmm?

Today’s magic moment hails from “What Happened Before YouTube,” Henry Jenkins’ contribution to YouTube: Digital Media and Society Series. As he argues, YouTube may be a relatively new platform but it certainly doesn’t represent a new set of behavioral practices. People have been mixing and mashing and self-publishing for decades, sometimes online, sometimes on kitchen tables, but always in the service of some larger group ethos. Participatory/remix culture(s) weren’t engendered by YouTube, in other words; rather, the success of YouTube was and remains dependent upon the preexistence of participatory/remix culture(s). Without a built-in audience for the weird and wonderful crap people do, there’d be no point to throw it online. Is the basic idea.

This was nicely backwardsing, another one of my fav-or-ite things, but the most interesting section (to me) came later, in Henry’s discussion of the limitations, or at least the (potential) ethical/interpersonal/political ambivalence, built into home-brewed content — particularly in terms of decontextualization. I immediately thought of Bed Intruder, maybe not the most obvious place for my brain to go, but a place my brain has gone many times before (lolwat). I’m assuming that anyone who’d take the time to read this blog would be well-versed in the Dodson affair, but you know what they say about assumptions. Before I give any background, though, here’s the VIRAL VIDYA, which now that I think about it is actually the appropriate place to start (in that it’s entirely the wrong place to start, but more on that in a minute):

YOU GUYS THIS IS SO FUNNY, is it any surprise the video’s amassed over 90 million hits? I mean it’s comedy gold. Because “hide yo husbands???” LOL MEN DON’T GET RAPED. And Antoine Dodson? What a lulz cow! I mean! What crawled up his weave amirite? Actually this (there may be an ad, sorry):

To recap: some guy broke into a house and tried to rape the woman inside. The local news showed up and interviewed the woman’s brother, who was still very upset. Ha…ha? Apparently so, since the story, particularly Dodson’s imprecation, became immediate remix fodder — thus accomplishing the truly Herculean task of making a punchline out of rape, poor people, black people and gay people. Cool story indeed! But calm down grandma, I’m not about to wag my finger at all the (ahem probably mostly straight/white/haven’t-been-raped) people who took some form of pleasure in the original newscast, remix and/or subsequent meme-cluster. Myself very much included, I mean let’s be honest, the world is a slippery beast.

What I am saying is that context is an awful easy thing to lose online. This can be a good thing, this can be a bad thing, this can be an entirely indifferent thing. It really depends on what side of the fence you happen to be standing on, for example if it was your house that was broken into, or your sister who was nearly assaulted. Regardless, the magical disarticulations of online content has a very clear and very immediate impact on both the reception and (re)creation of content — which at the very least is something to consider.

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