“Me at the zoo” – four seemingly innocuous words which entitled the first ever youtube video that would soon kickstart an enormous revolution in internet, society, sharing and you name it (and there’s probably a video for it too).
Youtube has really transcended above not just being a popular site (which it is stands as the 3rd most visited website1) but introducing a whole new paradigm for how we’re entertained and share information, it was arguably the flagship for web 2.0 and the new system of people creating internet content and having power over it which proved to be so vast that the Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006 was, on the back of this web 2.0 shift, us.
However Youtube’s influence on television has always been an interesting one with a persistent debate being can television ever be rivalled or replaced by Youtube or other websites. For now it appears the answer is, other websites maybe but Youtube, no. Yes it’d be silly for me to say that Youtube hasn’t attracted a mass audience for people who want to be entertained but for a long time and currently the line-up has predominately been music videos and funny things caught on camera etc which are of course great but still alienate the many others who seek episodic, original tv content that are found on tv’s, dvd’s and other websites, as i said. Very tough copyright guidelines inhibits such content being showcased on youtube (for instance show me a clip from a Fox show on youtube and i’ll show you something that’s very soon to be taken down) but there are exceptions which do pertain to various British shows in which whole episodes can be found from variety shows and some other shows like Fawlty Towers but not a whole lot else.
Signs do show that a change in Youtube is occurring, recent moves to fund original content being created and aired exclusively on youtube in large quantities and by successful artists have taken place and may prove to grow fast as people can be tempted to conveniently make content and immediately share it and side-step the very long and difficult process of making television shows. Through this we may see a move away from the “amateur” and toward the “auteur” as far as youtube content goes and from this it’s quite possible that a new TV can be found in youtube; only time will tell but if any site can do it, it’s Youtube.
In its prime; Desperate Housewives was truly something to behold. The comedy/drama about 5 women living in the lush Wisteria Lane pioneered the extent to which television shows can flourish and consume society while offering valid nods to many issues and offering quite notable meaning.
There’s little doubt than in 2004/2005; Desperate Housewives was the biggest thing on the planet; the pilot episode was the most-watched pilot since 1996, it was the 4th most watched series in the U.S1, it filled magazines and talk shows, won numerous awards and just got everyone talking regardless of age (including schoolkids which i can attest to) or gender or celebrity status; both Oprah Winfrey2 and Laura Bush3 publicly declared their fanship. It was really something new; while both M*A*S*H and Seinfeld’s finale episodes caused a global stir, and The Simpsons no doubt grew over 20 years into a cultural powerhouse, It was Desperate Housewives that really broke the mold of how a tv show could cause such a large commotion so quickly and so widely upon its debut.
But how? The show so neatly combined quality with shock that it pleased critics and audiences thoroughly and concurrently; the former though the pristinely lavish production, top-quality acting and storytelling with supremely juicy one-liners and the latter being overt sex, a literally M-rated promotional ad (don’t think i’ve ever seen such a thing before or since), to a galore of sensitive issues and guilty pleasure moments that probably fuelled more water cooler gossip than most shows had done before. It no doubt blazed a trail on which many shows would graduate beyond playing it safe and keeping budgets low.
The show’s meaning however is interesting and only really surfaces in the finale; the epilogue reveals that eventually all the main characters leave Wisteria Lane and only then do they excel and realise their dreams and potential, the sense of frustration and futility that plagued them during the show was finally lifted when they broke free of a life they didn’t want to live. A valid message for everyone.
Can of worms sees an age-old TV practice (sometimes coincidental, sometimes intentional) being undertaken; take the
format of another show, tweak it and market to a different audience. In this case
the show was Q&A, an interactive platform on which guests of
politicians, journalists or other public personalities discuss
important issues, take questions or comments from the audience and
fuel an online conversation between Twitterers and Facebookers. Take
away the politicians, swap “important” for “trivial” and “conversation”
for “frenzy” and you have Can of Worms. It’s a show where every week 3 well-known people are quizzed on an
array of issues and topics where they must take a stand and be
prepared to reveal all; the topics while maybe sometimes important
like cyber bullying and discrimination, mostly pertain to the
hard-hitting subjects like is re-gifting ok, have you ever dated an
older person, do you swear a lot or flash your car-lights when there’s
a speed camera around; the sort of stuff that seems targeted toward
young people or at least the young person in all of us.The show is an extension of the interpersonally interested society we
have no doubt become; we like learning about other people so we engage in
social media and we like learning about our favourite celebrities so
we buy tabloids; Can of worms effectively combines both aspects of
this; we are learning the views and dirty secrets of popular Aussie
celebs while the social media conversation this show triggers sees us
doing likewise with other such people connected on the cyberweb.But all of this harks to a deeper issue; a blogospheric issue too. As
Laurie Johnson, 2012: 62 stated; the identity that we form “must
always be worked out by the individual”. Celebrities would only seek
to bare-all on such a show if they sought to form a relatable persona
that in turn brings people closer to them and more likely to watch
them, listen to them, vote for them or enact whatever gesture of
loyalty towards that celebrity’s professional work. This is especially the case in Australia where we culturally detest pretension and arrogance and hence seeing someone famous humble themselves in a most public, humiliating way would be par for the course in attaining more popularity; don burke probably attracted as much adulation from his Can of Worms swearing streak than in the many years he spent on people’s gardens.Some however just want for the sake of it attention and hence another element of blogging is enacted; we don’t
blog for ourselves we blog for others to read it and guests on the
show share views so that it can cause an online and possibly
news-cycle stir that brings that person into the forefront even if for
the wrong reason.