Let me tell you a story:
Somewhere in London, in a trendy and well-expensive bar, a group of young filmmakers were desperately trying to come up with the next hit TV show. As the usual suggestions of anything featuring ‘sex’ and/or ‘celebrity’ in the title were offered up, one of the group idly began to surf the web in boredom and happened across a well-known website called YouTube. After a quick trip to the bathroom to snort coke of the tits of a girl who was easily impressed by a Channel 4 name badge, he returned to the table to tell his friends of his momentous idea.
‘We’ll put YouTube on the telly!’ he excitedly brayed to his champagne-soddled allies. ‘
‘It’ll be brilliant! We’ll film it on an empty soundstage with a few lights and microphones showing, y’know, to look a bit cool, and we’ll get a cheap version of Russell Brand to host it. Bish bash bosh, easy TV and a shitload of cash. Whaddaya think?’
His friends were less than enthusiastic – ‘it’s been done before’ they chorused ‘and isn’t in awfully similar to Tarrant on TV, or You’ve Been Framed…?’
‘That’s the whole point” our zeitgeist-defining producer replied
‘It’s been done before so we know it works. We just need to make it look hip and cool by hiring a man who has a kooky hat collection to present it. Nothing is cheaper and easier to make than a compilation show with footage that costs nothing to acquire.’
At this point our filmmakers ordered more champagne, more coke and more easily impressed women and began to talk long into the night about how TV was really easy to make as you didn’t really need to think about anything for more than a few minutes anymore.
Well - not quite the end. You see ‘Rude Tube’, as these pubescent wunderkunds opted to call it, isn’t going to be broadcast until tonight. However, since the format is so stale and the idea so staggeringly unoriginal, there really is no need to wait until it’s been on TV to accurately review it – after all, it’d be a waste of both your and my time. So here goes;
A load of videos that you’ll have already seen a gazillion times over, embedded on Facebook pages, or emailed to you by that funny guy in the office, or as part of Richard and Judy’s ‘Funny Videos on the Internet’ Section, or indeed on You Tube itself, are shown inexplicably in a prime time slot on Channel 4. That’s about it. It’s hosted by that guy who was on Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong last week and has a collection of cool Hoxton hats, and no doubt he’ll be making a few witty comments about the videos before they’re shown – I imagine some will be a little bit naughty, like a teenager’s nipple slipping out or a toddler making a noise that sounds like ‘fuck’ and some might be a bit gross, like the numerous videos there are of people drinking a gallon of milk and then vomiting.
About six years ago, before the advent of web 2.0, I ran a monthly audio/visual night in Sheffield called the Media Lounge. We showed a fair amount of footage from the web – internet video still being in its infancy then – much of which has now become quite famous; the cup stacking child, the treadmill music video, Star Wars kid, the whale blowing up or the wedding party doing Thriller etc…
After four years of running this night and showing this material in the backroom of pubs, we knocked it on the head, primarily because YouTube has usurped our positions and we could no longer get hold of footage that everyone hadn’t already seen… the novelty had gone.
I’m not writing this post from jealously or annoyance, but from sheer disbelief… the web video idea has been done, its been done, done, done – stuffed and roasted, it’s been sampled, looped, fucked and eaten and the whole world and their mother have their own channels. Funny videos of pandas sneezing, of BMXers falling over, of gang happy slapping and accidental nudity have been prevelant in our world for years – fucking hell, some even make the goddam, news – and they’re about the least least cool, least hip, least new, least novel and most easily accessible media there is.
Alex Kooky Hat was on Loose Women yesterday, wearily talking up this new venture and trying really hard to not to sound embarassed by the very idea – like a movie star who knows their new film sucks arse hard but is contractually obliged to say it’s good.
During the interview with the four malicious witches of daytime TV, he explained how some of the videos they’re showing have been viewed 70,000,000 times on the web. The question that should have been asked next is ‘well, why the fuck are you showing them at all?’
I wouldn’t mind so much, but I quite like Alex Kooky Hat – he seems like a nice fellow, is quick witted and funny and has some genuine screen presence, but unfortunately he appears to have an agent who wants a second home and will make him do whatever shit crops up next so he can get his hands on that 10%.
Rude Tube seems to be an even cheaper version of the Top 100 Most Barrel Scrapingly Obvious Time Fillers – after all, for those compilation shows they need to pay people to talk about the subjects, and they have to pay to use clips. All they need for this is some cheap b-list media personality, a load of free clips that EVERYONE has already seen and someone to write a few sentences to preceed them… it’s like the meeting was ending early and they still didn’t have the 9pm Friday slot filled, so they literally just threw any old shit at the screen and walked away counting the advertising revenue and giggling.
I shan’t be watching the Rude Tube 50 Most Watched Online videos tomorrow night, I’ll be online using the You Tube most watched feature (http://www.youtube.com/browse?s=mp&t=a&c=0&l=&b=0) – but if someone out there does, let me know if I was right.