I’ve been posting regularly on this blog for over 4 years now, and in my first entry I talked about how people were starting to realize that YouTube had more than cat videos. Now, this week, I’m surprised to see that the US White House understands that more than George Lucas and the news media at large.
This last week, three YouTubers had the chance to sit down and interview President Obama. They asked questions of their own devising, and questions that had come from their YouTube audiences. It was a solid, respectful conversation and Obama got a chance to address many more millennials than I’m guessing he has in years. The reaction of the news media at large was to attack the process, calling the interviews weird, and attempting to marginalize the people asking the questions. Hank Green, the YouTuber I most follow of the three, wrote a piece about it which is really excellent and which I’m linking here:
Moving onto George Lucas. Now, I can’t find any audio or video of the actual quote, but I’ve cross referenced a few of the online trades and when George Lucas and Robert Redford sat for a chat in front of a Sundance audience, he supposedly said something to the effect of—I never thought people would sit and watch cats do stupid things all day. Maybe he was making a joke. Lord knows I’ve dropped the odd cat video reference myself on the occasional podcast. It’s shorthand for the absurdity and specificity of internet interests. But it can be interpreted as patronizing the new format. Kinda like—Nothing of quality can come from that cat video box. That’s the way the internet has been interpreting it at least. And it just makes him sound so out of touch. I mean, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are partnering up with popular YouTube creators to make original web content. Admittedly, they’re launching that content on Vimeo, so I guess they don’t want anyone to see it, but it shows that recognized Hollywood heavyweights are aware of what’s happening on the web. And the Obama administration can see it too.
All of this just makes Lucas and the big news conglomerates seem wobbly. Hank Green’s article said it all. It’s just sad to see people threatened by conversation and a format they can’t easily buy and squash. I’m not saying people like me are a part of this conversation. I’m just saying it’s happening, and the old guard are trying to wish it away by attempting to marginalize it and calling it ‘weird.” They’re like the popular crowd who left high school convinced of their legacy. Then they’re surprised when they go back to the high school and none of the kids have any idea or care at all who threw a game-winner or was elected to prom court 20 years ago.
Thanks for reading. And you should definitely check out that piece by Hank Green.