Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Devil Isn't in the Details... 4 / 30

Much to the chagrin of theologians everywhere, I have discovered the source of all evil, the Devil itself.  No, it was not in the ninth circle of hell (though I did find some interesting friends there), nor was it in the far north frozen wastelands.  It was, in fact, on the internet.

Youtube is the devil.

At first I thought it was just technology in general, and that may still be the case.  Technology has brought so many terrible things to us lately, that one can’t help but wonder if it isn’t evil in some horrible way.  Sure, it brought organ transplants, stem-cell research, travelling to Mars, vaccines and replacement limbs.  Those are all good things, commendable things.  But think of the other evils that technology has brought.

Directly, or indirectly, technology is responsible for transforming our culture into the fast food eating, pop-culture worshipping, fake celebrity following, half-caf-decaf latte drinking, cell phone using, app manipulating, Octomom porn watching abomination that it has become.  It has stolen, beaten or warped everything that was once good and genuine in our society, and made it corrupt and evil.

Look at our entertainment media – we used to have the Rolling Stones, CCR and Bob Dylan.  Now we have Kesha, Shaun Desmon and Bruno Mars.  That hurts.  Full disclosure – I like Bruno Mars.  Where once people actually had to do something either very well or spectacularly badly to become famous, now they can just be famous for… well… being famous.

That lack of veracity is slowly eroding our ability to differentiate between the good and the bad.  Hell, we’ve begun to embrace the bad in a way that makes little sense.  Trends in entertainment lately have me, and everyone I talk to, shaking their heads and wondering how and why it came to this.  We started with such innocent “reality television” talent shows like American Idol.  Sure, it’s contrived and scripted, but at least the folks singing on it are actually demonstrating a shred of talent.  They may not be Jaggers or Jacksons, but at least they are demonstrating a real skill.  What demonic producers decided to bring us such delectable “reality” shows as:  19 Kids and Counting (ok, I’ll admit that this family is good at one thing), Operation Repo, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Keeping up with the Kardashians and my new favorite, Bridalplasty, where a group of blushing brides to be will compete for a complete surgical makeover.  Yeah, that’s right, the winner gets her wish list of surgical procedures, all cosmetic.  From breast enhancements to lip injections, nose jobs to tummy tucks, they get it all.  What the hell?  That’s not entertainment, that should be cause for therapy!

And all of those are symptoms.  Declining musical quality and talent (you don’t really think Brittany is singing live while doing full on calisthenics on stage do you?) brought by producers who know that image is more important than talent, because the computers will make the voice sound like anything they want; a pop-culture explosion of fake celebrity worship (seriously, what are the Kardashians and Paris Hilton actually famous for??? Anyone???);  mass-marketing corporations who use our fear of being different, being boring or not being good enough against us to make us buy their shit…  its all because of technology and they use technology to do it.

And technology’s worst offense?  Youtube.com.
If there was one medium that was changing the way we think of fame and talent, it’s the internet.  And as the most popular entertainment site of them all, Youtube has made more than its fair share of people famous, for no damned reason at all.  Sure some of them were interesting, but no more so than a million other people every day.

Larry Platt – pants on the ground.  Why is this man famous???

Steven Slater – quit his airline attendants job with a bang – and got captured on video.  As a result of this, he was a household face for a while. Why? Because he decided to quit his job in a huff?

Antoine Dodson – the brother of an alleged assault victim… he didn’t actually do anything interesting himself, but his newscasted rant was remixed, remastered and set to a beat – now he’s famous.

Now some of them, I’ll be the first to admit, just got a lucky break because of Youtube.  As much as it pains me, Justin Beiber can actually sing.  I don’t understand the cult he has following him, but he can sing.

Isaiah Mustafa can act, at least a little.  Who’s he you ask?  He’s the man your man could smell like if your man stopped using flowery perfumed soap and started using Old Spice body wash.  Look at your keyboard, back to the screen, you’re reading a blog.

Some people have even made careers out of Youtubing (I think that’s a word) and all the power to them… but at least those people have some small modicum of talent, even if that only talent is to entertain us with their views and opinions.

And I know I am taking this way too seriously.  “Youtube isn’t the devil” you say, “it’s all just entertainment man, you gotta relax.”  And maybe you are right.  Maybe I am getting worked up over nothing, I hope so.  But when I see that over 265 million people have watched “Charlie bit my finger” but libraries, classrooms and playgrounds are empty, I get a bit depressed about our future as a civilization.

I’d write more, but I started Youtubing while writing this, and damned if it hasn’t sucked me in… you gotta see what some of these people can do with a rubber ball and 217 liters of petroleum jelly.

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