In the Loop

YouTube stardom (whether you want it or not)

Posted at 2:28 PM on February 8, 2008 by Jeff Horwich

So we've been on an interesting ride the last few days.

On (Super) Tuesday, our "Super Tuesday fever (Not)" video got featured on the front page of YouTube. Dream come true, right?

Well, 170,000 views and 400+ comments later, it's a mixed bag.

No doubt about it, we were aiming for a video that would have some viral potential; something topical and "newsy," but funny and provocative enough to catch the winds. Score.

And we wanted to make a distinct, and quite simple, point: "Super Tuesday" may be a great excuse for a media frenzy, but for many people it is still just another Tuesday. Think of it as sprinkling a little perspective amid the ocean of Super Tuesday craziness. And we figured it would be funny to see how people responded when they didn't know.

When we headed out with the video camera, people were good-natured and willing to have fun with us. And we weren't condescending when they didn't know what Super Tuesday was. It's a free country, right?

Then comes YouTube, where the vitriol of the comments was...well, par for the course on YouTube, I guess. Our point about the gulf between the media frenzy and much of the public was widely interpreted as just a slam against the "ignorant" people we featured. Granted, some commenters got the broader point and rose to defend our interview subjects. Some of those subjects rose to defend themselves:

Please note that as one of the participants in the interview, I do have a very clear understanding of my rights/responsibilities and I exercise those rights in every election as a way to affect change and will do so again on "Super Tuesday". Perhaps we were caught a little off guard by a camera shoved in our faces, that by NO means makes us idiots nor Disgusting. HAPPY SUPER FAT TUESDAY, see you at the polls!

Thanks to her for her sense of humor, something surprisingly lacking in much of the holier-than-thou YouTube crowd. There's an irony in here somewhere: We cheer on the mindless fodder that makes up most of YouTube, but get incensed when confronted with the fact that some people don't live and breathe news and politics.

That said, the episode confirmed what I knew before: One should never confuse the rabid rantings of YouTube comments with a rational interpretation of anything. And perhaps we should be glad that so many of the comments around our video actually used correct grammar and full sentences. Baby steps.

February 2008
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