In Defense of You Tube

You Tube is becoming an interesting channel.

You Tube’s critics seem to concentrate on the thousands of teenagers all
lip syncing to pop songs in the hope of being discovered.
Those teenagers have good reason to do what they are doing.
One girl, who had over a million hits, has been signed by a USA
network. I watched her video, it was funny, inventive, entertaining.

Not many of the You Tube detractors ever mention the amount of historical footage on the site. It must be the best resource in the world for researchers, novelists, historians, school children and anyone interested in the past.

There is footage on the site which will never be shown on a TV channel anywhere in the world again. That is not because the footage is not relevant or people are not interested but simply that TV companies, with a few exceptions, are not very creative in commissioning.

Type BOBBY KENNEDY into the search engine and you get a very long list of him making speeches, CIA plots against him, assassination footage etc etc.

Type JFK and you get far more clips. I can hear you all say, ‘we’ve seen those clips a thousand times’. Yes we have but the generation behind us have not seen them.

When was the last time, in the UK, you saw anything about Bobby Kennedy or any of the following subjects: David Hockney, The Beatles, Stem Cells, how to play “Wonderwall”, a 12 year old guitarist playing Neal Young songs, Space Exploration, Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath reading, “Daddy”, D H Lawrence, George Best and Joni Mitchell?

British TV has become narrow casting: politics, soaps, reality, celebrity.

Karl Marx wrote, ‘Religion is the opium of the people’. In the sixties sociologists turned that quote into: ‘TV is the opiate of the masses’. Never before has that been been true of broadcasting in the UK.

Most tv channels are now simply a tool for publicists. Chat shows only have guests on who are pushing a book, a new CD, a movie release. No one ever comes on to talk about their day to day work. It would be nice for a change to see someone interview Kate Blanchett and ask  her about how she got into the profession, who and what influenced her, what advice she would give to young girls wanting to get into films and theatre.

Last week, on You Tube, I watched a clip which was a recording of a telephone call made from the 105th floor of the WTC. It was a harrowing experience. No channel would ever show it because they would be afraid of upsetting their audience. But I think clips like that should be in the public domain, if only to stop the conspiracy writers from making money from a tragic event.

On on the music front You Tube it is a fantastic resource.

The Beatles to Led Zeppelin, Shostakovitch, Beethoven, Elgar and just about anyone who has made a record or performed at the local Dog and Duck. Some of that material is disappearing as the record companies call in their copyright. But the enlightened labels have done a deal with You Tube.

The clip on my channel which gets the most hits, and by a long way, is Slim Aarons talking about his photograph of Jackie Kennedy.  I never expected a woman, who has been out of the public eye for twenty years, to be the main source of interest.

I think the public embrace You Tube because they know it has no political allegiance.

Thank God, Rupert Murdoch was unable to buy it.

True, You Tube is owned by a corporation, GOOGLE but Google is not a run of the mill company. Thirty per cent of their employees are millionaires. I have not heard of any company rewarding their staff to such an extent.

As for those teenagers, they can’t win. The media would have you believe that they all hang around waiting to mug someone, take or sell crack cocaine and shoot each other.

Many teenagers spend hours on You Tube, filming their own interests and creating something out of nothing, just for the hell of it. They should be encouraged and not criticised for falling short of broadcasting excellence.

Powerful organisations attack You Tube because they are terrified of the upstart channel. They have good reason to be afraid. Audiences,  young and old, have dumped main stream media.

The broadcasters have only themselves to blame.

You Tube’s raison d’être? I would say: creativity, education and entertainment.

Lord Reith would have embraced the channel.

Ron Taylor, February 2007 / 2012