The Spartaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! video meme
Some of the most treasured activities and applications of the Internet sub-culture are going “legit” – with major companies and movie studios taking notice, and a piece or all of the action.
Take the case of Hulu, NBC/Universal’s streaming video venture. Not only is it like YouTube – it’s like those awesome clips and clip collections you find on YouTube! You know the ones: for Family Guy, The Office, Arrested Development, etc. The infamous “where’s my money” sketch from Family Guy — in which Stewie shoots out both of debtor Brian’s kneecaps and sets him on fire – was made famous by the unofficial clip on YouTube, made by a fan. Hulu offers the same types of clips, as well as embed features – all authorized by NBC/Universal.
“I remember the good old days when we had nothing but silly putty and old Dilbert comic strips.”
Then look at PopTok, an IM application that works in conjunction with AIM or MSN Messenger, allows you to take little movie snippets and “splice” them into your online conversation. Now, anybody familiar with forum culture knows that people have been creating little gifs and clips of their favorite movies and using them to express themselves. The only catch with PopTok? Their clips are all licensed by the movie studios.
Finally, there’s the “Pork and Beans” video by Weezer, which showcases a whole slew of Internet memes. Yes, Weezer is an alternative band, and yes, the video features a narrative in which the working-class heroes/”freaks” of the YouTube celebrity world are finally given their due respect. But, in the end, “Pork and Beans” – and the music studio – have co-opted those memes, those “underground” performers. It’s Tay Zonday gone mainstream.
Should we be in mourning for the end of the “wild west” of fan clips and video memes? Or are the reports of their imminent demise just a bit too premature?
Do we feel guilty using Hulu? Is it too much like using “The Man’s” streaming video service? Is there a quaintness about viewing the same video clip in YouTube, with the little symbol from the cable channel the clip was recorded off of in the corner like an Izod alligator on a pocket?
What is more mood-specific: a smiley or Patrick Bateman explaining Huey Lewis?
Is using PopTok just too simple? Now that we have the cool American Psycho clip, in flawless video, to drop into the online chat – is it like Christmas happened already? Is the thrill of the hunt over? Do we miss the process of ripping the film off the DVD or unlicensed YouTube clip, then figuring out how to turn it into a small playable box? Or do we use the IM app guilt-free and bask in the sheer joy that is Patrick Bateman making an everyday phrase sound sinister?
Further – does the techie with the skills to create bit torrents and professional-quality DVD rips use those skills to go “legit” themselves?
Dramatic Chipmunk died for your sins
I’m talking about where the underground and the mainstream meet on the face of the online world. Is it an uncomfortable border to be straddling? Or can we let ourselves enjoy both?