YOU-TUBE-SIZED: 10 Radical Things About YouTube
OYN nurtures youth to empower innovative micro-enterprises that mobilize their peers from awareness to action. By helping youth imagine new ways of engaging in socially-motivated commons-based peer production, Open Youth Networks aims to strengthen youth participation in democratic decision-making through critical media production and analysis.
[Qualifier: Actually, YouTube here is a stand in word for any online video-sharing site. We actually view videos on many different sites similar to YouTube so we refer to YouTube in the generic sense like saying Kleenex instead of tissue.]
1. Creating a Free Youth Culture by Democratizing Media
We create our own entertainment and use our voices as a vice to expose issues within the communities that, otherwise, would not be viewed. In the last few years internet sites such as YouTube have been flooded with videos from youth expressing ideas and showing the world that we are the leaders of a new revolution.
Look, when You-Tube was invented, we went from a top-down profit driven corporate broadcast system to a free open source user–driven on-line Mecca, like overnight. Whatever, its flaws and there are many, YouTube has democratized media. Okay, we know we have to challenge YouTube when it caves into the political pressures and removes controversial content, but still, consider the level of gate-keeping going on by corporate owned mass media television networks... We are no longer forced to listen only to “the man” and seeing other people do it makes us realize we can do it too. In our opinion, you can’t have a real democracy without dialogue between people with differing points of view and sometimes, at its best, YouTube makes dialogue happen.
The Revolution Will Be Televised by Open Youth Networks
Everyday at our schools, we are being watched by cameras and surveilled by adults. Posses of parents spy on our Facebook pages. Academic researchers study our "online behaviors". Marketers spy on our subcultures and consumer habits so they can sell what we create back to us. Police arrest us just for "being in public." But with camera phones in our pockets and with YouTube as our witness, we can take the private abuses of authority that we as youth endure on a daily basis and make them public for all to see.
Police Brutality: Skateboarders vs. the cops
Mr. Schwartz Imitation by Adam Norway
# 3- Bedroom Cinema
Lots of the videos we watch online are quite simple. They showcase one person in their bedroom with a camera, often one that is built into the computer and instantly uploaded to YouTube. No special effects. No broadcast TV equipment. Just totally raw. We all vent in different ways whether it be in journals or on videos. Showing the world your personal views on an issue is radical and venting can be personally calming. We can play, experiment and try on new personas or react to and reframe the ones that are marketed to us through commercial media. We are clever and witty and sexy and smart and honest or not. You decide.
Miss West Carolina goes to Hollywood
#4. Our Culture Kicks Ass
YouTube allows us to celebrate our own aesthetic possibilities, show off our
talents and challenge the hegemony of sameness. On YouTube you will see
youth doing parkour, cup games , quadrupal kickflips, speed-stacking,
animation, and break dancing —all trenchant aspects of our subcultural
Urban Ninja by Evolved Monkey Combat
Daft Hands: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
World Champion Speed Stacker
Cup Game DOS
5. Monetizing Makers, Not the Corporate Takers – No ads on YouTube.
Okay, yeah there are little ads found throughout the site but you aren't forced to click on them. Viewing all your favorite episodes and music videos without having to see an AXE body spray commercial is simply a blessing. And there is no limit to what you can and can't watch, no compulsory or maximum amount of videos that can be viewed at one time.
Compared to other forms of media, YouTube is freer- we need to make sure we keep it that way. But if someone makes a really great TV ad, you can view it on YouTube, because trust us, if its worth seeing, it will be there. But then when shameless commercial interests try to corrupt the YouTube user-driven spaces, they must be prepared to suffer.
When the Dove Evolution ad became viral, its hypocrisy was exposed.
YouTube is Talk-back TV. So even though it isn’t really the point to make money, some YouTubers hit a nerve –they are real artists, actors and political geniuses– so when they become successful and develop a subscriber base in the thousands and get hundreds of thousands of views then why shouldn’t they be able to make a living off their art or bring attention to their talents, messages and music. Revver.com shares 50% of its ad revenue with is content providers. We should monetize the makers not the corporate takers.
Midwest Teen Sex Show
Chongalicious new Video by Laura DiLorenzo and Mimi Davila
6. Social Sanctuary
What you share is who you are. We define our identities and build our social networks by creating affinity groups through the culture we make and consume and share!
For example, there is this familiar, "Psssstt…have you seen that video??" Chainletters no longer circulate in our inboxes, instead its chain videos! [fwd fwd fwd fwd fwd] “So&so sent you a video on YouTube!” Sometimes it is just entertainment, sometimes political, but politics is in everything, so what’s the difference?
And these videos are the ones that can bring out the haters. Actually, haters are everywhere on YouTube and sometimes if you get a lot of haters, it is actually a compliment because those are actually paying attention on some level. Who said democracy and dialogue isn’t messy? Besides the really stupid haters end up being dissed and exposed by everyone anyway. The worst haters we face are found on our streets everyday – some of them criminalize youth for hanging out in public. At least on YouTube and MySpace, there are no curfew and anti-gang loitering laws. YouTube is a sanctuary.
Hater Comments from the Sarcasm Video
Leave Britney Alone Trace Remix
7. Political Remix
With the right tools, YouTube is a digital burying ground for all sorts of treasures- ripe for the reusing. It puts anything from embarrassing flubs to hilarious images in the public eye, to be remixed, reused, and thrown back into the world with a fresh spin or biting political commentary. One of the absolutest coolest things about YouTube culture is when people immediately respond to some insane TV news segment or political speech through brilliant remix.
I mean, they can’t get away with their spin machine like they used to now that we are watching them. Plus, we trust the remix version more than the source footage, if you know what I mean. Through political remix, we expose lies and critique the mass media. To quote copyrighted text is to be a good American.
Political Hillary WASN'T LYING! Bosnia gunfire footage discovered...
Sunday Bloody Sunday Song by George W. Bush
8. Alternative News and Analysis
Lets face it. A lot of the 24-hour news programs are bullshit. No one, especially teens gives a crap about what a bunch of boring old people jabber on about. Enter YouTube. Now youth can produce and feature their own news about what matters to them. This appeals to many kids because we want to stay in touch and aware, but not become brainwashed and comatose.
For example, politics! As busy young people who usually aren’t in front of a TV to watch the presidential debates, so we tend to get on YouTube to stay up to date. Sometime we like to look up world issues and get a quick summarizing documentary of what’s going on around the world…‑like in Sudan, Palestine, etc. This means we see all the media views on the issue – not just the corporate TV news version. It’s interesting to see what crazy videos people make either making fun of rival’s parties or of expressing their position on a certain issue. It gives you a whole different perspective.
George Bush Don’t Like Black People
The Jena 6 by Youth Radio
9. Laughter and other Guilty Pleasures
Not to complain but to 1) survive high school emotionally, 2) get into a good college and 3) afford the insane tuition of that college means that we have to get awesome ACT/SAT scores, do “Mother Theresa” type levels of community service, achieve “a strong B average” in our GPAs while avoiding the gang crossfire in our neighborhoods, all while having to put up with a high school that operates like a prison system or police state.
And if you are out in public with a bunch of other kids who are not playing soccer, you are immediately suspected for gang activity. But it doesn’t matter because we have so much homework. So we multi-task and in between figuring out the quadratic formula and memorizing dates, we go to YouTube and escape by watching little puppies fall asleep or Japanese televisions programs called “How to Poop”. Adults need to grant us that. Its okay to laugh, really.
Sleepy Spudgy, The Best Cat Video You’ll Ever See
10. In Bed With Embedding
We can embed YouTube videos into our blogs, our MySpace and facebook pages, our websites and our Google MyMaps. In other words what is sent to YouTube doesn’t just stay on YouTube – you can cross-fertilize. For instance, some of our members are creating videos about environmental racism that they post on youtube but then embed onto OurMap of Environmental Justice (link below). We can network and build peer to peer movements through shareable media.
See Our Map of Environmental Justice
Youth Media Exchange the Hidden Cost of Cashmere
Go Army: Bad Guys by Jonathan McIntosh
Mindy Faber is an activist, educator and award-winning video artist. Faber
has taught media arts in Chicago both in high school and after-school
setttings since the late 90s and is currently the Director of Open Youth
Networks, a program of Chicago Filmmakers.
Ameenah Muhammad is a Senior at Amundsen High School. She is an active
member of Inner City Muslim Action Network and a standout writer and poet
who performs regularly at poetry slams and events throughout Chicago.
Sadia Nawab is a 18 year old Freshman at Loyola University in Chicago and an
active participant in youth organizing through Southwest Youth
Collaborative, Kuumba Lynx and Inner City Muslim Action Network.
Zane Scheuerlein is a Junior at Evanston Township High School in Evanston,
Illinois. His video, The Hidden Cost of Cashmere has received thousands of
hits online and was recently included in the Human Rights Watch