"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's new to me

Turning to a lighter topic today: wandering hither, tither, and yon on the Internet, I stumbled across a wacky web site called "Will It Blend?" containing a series of videos where in each exciting 2-minute episode, a dorky middle-aged host in a white lab coat inserts various objects into a standard-issue kitchen blender and grinds them to a pulp. Isn't the web a wonderful thing?

Among other things, he's blended cell phones, CDs, metal tape measures, a bathroom plunger (left), stuffed animals, cassette tapes, and my favorite: a baseball. At the end of each segment, the pureed contents of the blender are dumped ceremoniously onto the table to the bouncy beat of 50's game show music while the words, "Yes, it blends!" flashes on the screen. I thought it was hilarious and figured I'd uncovered a hidden treasure. I mean, who the hell inserts a live video camera and a beer (still in the can!) into a blender until it turns into a mushy powder, besides a 19-year old drunken redneck? This has to be how "Mythbusters" got started, right?

But upon further investigation I discovered I'm a Johnny-Come-Lately to the Mixfest. It turns out that WIB is a viral marketing campaign for the Blendtec company, who not-so-coincidentally manufactures the implement of destruction used on the program. The show has been around for a while; it originated as a gag on YouTube, and became so wildly popular there that the company decided to produce videos for their own web site. Host Tom Dickson (who is also, again not-so-coincidentally, the company's CEO) and his Blender of Doom have appeared on The Today Show with Meredith Viera, been interviewed by Katie Couric on CBS, and the show has been seen by millions. Who knew? Apparently, not I.

My other discovery, which so far as I know has not (yet, at least) become a worldwide phenomenon is a quirky little show called "Cube News". It's hosted by the adorably goofy Kim, a spunky lil' ol' Southern gal (right) who talks a mile a minute on subjects that all office cubicle-dwellers can relate to, like the etiquette of invisible walls, the perils of body odor in the shared workspace, how to handle those photos of you having sex with a co-worker posted on the company web site, and coping with the dreaded "chair-butt syndrome". It's sort of like "Dilbert" on acid.

This stuff is the latest wave of video known as "User-Generated-Content" (UGC). One of the first big shows of this genre was "Rocketboom", which started from nothing and took off after it was picked up by Tivo, making an instant media darling of host Amanda Congdon. She went on to host a similar video podcast on ABC, and is currently developing a new program for HBO. Lots of people are now hoping to duplicate her success with low-budget productions like "Will It Blend" and "Cube News", and quite a few people -- mostly college students -- indeed watch YouTube to the exclusion of "real" TV. Video equipment and editing software has become so affordable that nearly anyone can produce a technically decent-looking show, but the key factor, as has always been true with any performance, is that it still takes creativity and talent to make something people will want to watch and be entertained by.

Which fails to explain either Rosie O'Donnell or Sanjaya Malakar.

In any case, I'm late to the party -- again -- on this whole UGC thing, so please leave a comment if you've got a favorite YouTube video or podcast you'd like to share. You might also want to send me your kipper ties, calico brocade shirts, and alpaca flares. Yeah, I wanna be so hip it hurts.


  • At 4/25/2007 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Daisy Martin said…

    YouTube is soooo addicting. It got to the point where I had to force myself to limit my Youtube surfing to one morning a week. Seriously I lost one entire week of my life on Youtube. Scary.

    My fav YouTubers are Dylans Couch and YsabellaBrave.

  • At 5/30/2007 04:09:00 PM, Blogger BJ said…

    Hey – since you’re a YouTuber, you might want to check this out… There’s a video company that’s recruiting
    YouTubers and if they like your stuff, (and they should) they will actually pay you when your video gets a hit.
    Here’s their link… www.flownetworkproductions.com/videorevenue.htm. It’s about time the people who make
    the videos get some of the money instead of it all going to YouTube!


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