One: cut a hole in a box. Two: put your junk in the box. Three: make her open the box. And that’s the way you do it – according to Justin Timberlake, anyway. These instructions for the perfect gift, which, in this case, is your dick in a box, have streamlined their way into pop culture. Why, you might ask? Because of YouTube, the video sharing website that was named Time Magazine’s “Invention of the Year,” in 2006.
Created in early 2005, YouTube exploded in popularity, ultimately grabbing the interest of Google Inc., which purchased the site last year for $1.65 billion. As of last summer, it was the fifth most viewed webpage in America. Not that this should be too surprising. In the high school and college communities, hardly a week goes by without word of the newest and most ridiculous video on YouTube. Whether it’s an amateur video of a kid pretending to have hands made of bananas, or a professional skit on Saturday Night Live, if there’s footage to be seen it’s going to be on YouTube. And with 100 million clips being viewed daily, it doesn’t take long for one to inject itself into the mainstream.
The success of YouTube has been great in some respects. One thing I credit it with is saving the music video. It’s become practically impossible to see music videos on television anymore, unless you live on campus and get mtvU. Luckily, fans can watch their favorite artists’ videos online on YouTube. Beck, for example, made a handful of cheaply made videos for his latest album, Information, available on the site. Then there’s the band OK Go, whose cleverly orchestrated video featuring them dancing on treadmills was rejected by MTV, only to become one of the most viewed clips online. I had never heard of the band until I saw the video, which is admittedly awesome. I might not like their music, but I definitely know who they are now.
The most amazing thing about YouTube is the fact that you can literally find anything that you missed on TV or in concert, or anywhere for that matter. This is assuming it’s less than 10 minutes in length and popular enough that someone wanted to post it. But 9 out of 10 times you should be golden. If you missed the highlights of the epic Boise State game, no problem. YouTube has it. Do you want to relive a Daily Show interview or see frat guys try to dance in their serenade videos? YouTube is the place to go. The site also works wonders for aspiring filmmakers who are able to upload their work for the world to see.
Unfortunately, by allowing anyone to load videos, the site predictably gets flooded with crap. And since a majority of the viewers on this site are immature 12-16 year olds, a lot of this garbage is hailed as genius, which is depressing. YouTube might be the home to hours of brilliant, entertaining videos, but it’s also become a breeding ground for a growing number of ignoramuses, dullards, dimwits, dipsticks and whatever else you want to call them. I like to equate the degradation of society with the rise of idiotic videos on YouTube.
Anything from a mindless film spoof to a clip of a baby laughing demonically can be found on the site. The movie Snakes on a Plane, which had hundreds of video spoofs created in its honor, was actually re-edited by the director in an attempt to fulfill his audience’s desires. If that’s not artistic vision, I don’t know what is. On the other hand, it’s sociologically amazing. While film should ideally shape culture, instead what we have are millions of low-cost video clips influencing artists. It’s art that comments on art, an idea that I’ve shamelessly borrowed from a friend. The idea behind it is fascinating. Indeed, it’s almost as crazy as Timberlake’s ability to act. I can only imagine how many people will flood the streets of Del Playa next Halloween wearing boxes over their dicks. Sadly, for NBC, not one of these people will actually watch SNL.