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YOUTUBE: A Few Good Movies Amidst Lots of… Well… May 13, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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YouTube's movie selection is still mostly pitiful, but it houses some classics.

YouTube's movie selection is still mostly pitiful, but it houses some classics.

Yes, YouTube has been slow on getting premium content, and what they do have in TV and movies is mostly crap. But I was surprised after visiting YouTube’s movie section for the first time in a long while how many little gems they have. Sure there are some recent not-so-horrible films like The Mod Squad (Claire Danes version) and Cliffhanger, but YouTube also has bona fide classics, quality stuff. With the help of distributors like Crackle.com, Cinetic and MGM, YouTube is getting some nice content, even some with limited commercials. Here, with links, is what’s popular and worth watching.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (dir. George Romero) – Every streaming site has this one (IMDB.com has it) because it’s in the public domain! Back when corporations had to actually put in the effort to register their films, Night‘s producers made a mistake on the copyright application, sending this one into free culture. It’s one of the few classics you can use and remix without compunction.

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THE TIMES OF HARVEY MILK (dir. Rob Epstein) – I don’t agree with critics who compare Gus Van Sant’s feature Milk with the documentary (they’re two separate genres!), but I do think everyone should watch both. Both are compelling, in their own ways.

AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD (dir. Werner Herzog); LITTLE DIETER LEARNS TO FLY (dir. Werner Herzog); FITZCARRALDO (dir. Werner Herzog) – I don’t know why there’s so much Herzog on YouTube, but c’mon folks, it’s Herzog. ‘Nuff said.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY (dir. Howard Hawks) – For anyone who likes romantic comedies, this is the cream of the crop. Compare this film to similar ones made today and you suddenly feel like we’ve taken several steps back. I wish there were more rom-coms this spirited and witty — and fast! — today. I’m so happy this is on the ‘Tube!

SLACKER (dir. Richard Linklater) – Linklater’s early day-in-the-life film, nominated for ISA and Sundance awards.

CASINO ROYALE (multiple) – One of the few films in which Woody Allen acts but does not direct!

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SUPER SIZE ME (dir. Morgan Spurlock) – I’m still scared to see this movie, but now I can watch it for free!

BLUE LAGOON (dir. Randal Kleiser) – No secret why this is one of YouTube’s most popular movies.

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CARRIE (dir. Brian De Palma) – Brian De Palma has his critics, but the man knows how to craft a solid film.

TV: Online Television, Web Serials Primer – Introduction (Part 2) May 7, 2009

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Web serials are also experimenting with distribution and exhibition online. The main debate centers on how to showcase the show, how people find it. This typically involves using either a video hosting site (YouTube, MySpace, Slide FunSpace on Facebook, Blip.tv, Crackle.com), a targeted video hosting site (FunnyorDie.com; CollegeHumor.com; Minimovie.com), a separate site for the show (lg15.com, afterworld.tv, theburg.tv), placing it on a network’s site (CW.com, NBC.com, IFC.com), or syndicating it, putting in more places than one,[1] which appears to be the new trend. (Norlin 2009) Here again, there are debates: some say single programs cannot stand alone, that websites become hits, not shows: “People are conditioned to think of hits as single programs…That’s not going to work online, where Hulu is a hit, Twitter is a hit.” (Caranicas 2009) Yet some networks want to drive traffic to their website, and still others lack trust in the business models of major hosting sites like YouTube, who is still tinkering with pleasing ad models (pre-rolls, in-video display). History shows, moreover, that some users will pay for shows (Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog), but no major company sees that as the future. Placing a show on a site like YouTube or Facebook incorporates the social networking and interactivity, which many, including lonelygirl15 co-creator Miles Beckett, say is vital. (New Media Age 2009) In the end, a growing consensus believes the television and computer screen will have to merge, or that the role of “television” itself will change, focusing on big live events rather than scripted or documentary (reality TV) fare. (Caranicas 2009; McQuivey 2009)


            The online video market is still small, and despite its growth, networks and content producers are debating whether it is the future of serialized moving images. Some forecasts suggest the online video market will grow considerably but only reach 10 percent of traditional TV’s revenue. (Albrecht 2009) As an additional challenge, many Internet users – perhaps 70 percent – know nothing about web serials, even as video watching, by almost any metric, continues to grow. (Dobuzinskis 2009; McQuivey 2009; Albrecht 2009) The market also lacks structure. For advertisers, the diffuse nature of content delivery systems (both on the computer screen and to the television) leads to confusion about where to put their money. (Learmonth 2009) All this is happening during a recession, causing numerous players to pull back. Advertisers are not buying enough ads to fund all the video out there (from Hulu to YouTube) and networks are retrenching, pulling back content (Hulu from Boxee; FX from Hulu). These moves may, in the end, prove ill-considered. More collaboration leads to more innovation, which will help develop web serials into a viable commercial form.


Albrecht, Chris. 2009. Is Online Video a Threat to TV?. March 26. NewTeeVee.com. http://newteevee.com/2009/03/26/is-online-video-a-threat-to-tv/

Barraclough, Leo. 2009. Made-for-online content still stalled; Business model remains a work in progress. March 29. Daily Variety.

Caranicas, Perter. 2009. Panel debates future of television; Discussion puts focus on TV, Internet. April 28. Daily Variety.

Chaney, Jen. 2009. ‘I Don’t Quite Know the Metrics of the Success.’; Josh Schwartz Is Getting in Tune With TV on the Web. March 8. The Washington Post, E02.

Dobuzinskis, Alex. 2009. Hollywood Struggles to find wealth on the Web. February 18. Reuters.

Donahue, Ann. 2008. Music show launches on TheWB.com. October 30. Billboard.com.

Hale, Mike. 2008. Television Keeps a Hand in the Online Game With Serialized Shows. September 2. The New York Times, Arts 5.

Hampp, Andrew. 2008. NBC Universal wants advertisers to fund original web series; Digital studio plans to integrate brands during the development stage. October 13. Advertising Age.

Heffernan, Virginia. 2007. Artists Only. December 23. The Medium blog. The New York Times.

Heffernan, Virigina. 2008. Serial Killers. August 24. The Medium blog. The New York Times.

Learmonth, Michael. 2009. Digital Marketing Guide: Video: From Broadcast Sites to Startups, How to Navigate the Online Content Space… March 30. Advertising Age. http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=135596

McQuivey, James L. 2009. Preparing for the Coming Online TV Backlash: An Open Letter To An Industry On The Verge Of A Big Mistake. March 13. Forrester Research.

McQuivey, James L. 2009. There’s an online TV storm a brewin.’ March 29. OmniVideo. http://omnivideo.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/theres-an-online-tv-storm-a-brewin/

Norlin, Chase. 2009. The Next Big Thing In Online Video: Syndication. April 15. OnlineMediaDaily. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=103973

Owen, Rob. 2009. Web TV: Series not just for television anymore. March 17. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, A1.

Strauss, Gary. 2009. CollegeHumor.com laughs all the way to a TV series ; Not quite sketch, not quite scripted. February 5. The New York Times, D3.

Staff. 2009. Teens expect more integration says KateModern team. February 12. New Media Age

[1] Which is what Arianna Huffington proposes. (Caranicas 2009)

TV: Online Television, Web Series Primer – Introduction May 6, 2009

Posted by Aymar Jean Christian in Uncategorized.
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UPDATE!: I’ve updated the following post in a clearer format with better information on how the market works. Please see this post: “What is a Web Series?”


ORIGINAL: I wrote this primer on made-for-online TV serials for a seminar here at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania to orient myself to what the most current debates are and to start planning for research in this area (I’m just starting to learn). I’m posting it here in sections to get feedback, comments and information from anyone who’ll offer it. So please leave comments or email me (ajean @ asc . upenn . edu) if you can help out!


Bitsie Tulloch in "Quarterlife"

Bitsie Tulloch in "Quarterlife"

From Newsweek.com’s The District to IFC.com’s Young American Bodies, the range and number of web serials is staggering. In some ways, to speak of web serials – web series, or, metaphorically speaking, online TV shows – is fraught with complications. What are the similarities, for instance, between the low-budget, DIY aesthetic of Young American Bodies – formerly on Nerve.com – compared with the slate of sci-fi action series NBC created for its hit show HeroesNowhere Man, Going Postal, and Heroes Destiny? Wikipedia’s list of web series contains dozens of shows, and even that list is incomplete. There is no formula for web serials. They range from science fiction (a large proportion), to non-narrative periodical short films (Green Porno, SundanceChannel.com), to vignettes (Rockville, CA for TheWB.com), to promotional extras for established network shows (Chasing Dorota for the CW; Mode After Hours for ABC; Kenneth the Web Page for NBC), among numerous other unclassifiable installations on independent websites, major distributors like YouTube, Facebook or FunnyorDie.com, and network web sites. Web serials are becoming established and developing an infrastructure – they have an annual award, the Streamys, judged by a panel of industry leaders and participants. Yet with all of this activity, the mass media industries – advertisers, content producers, major distributors (networks) – have yet to master the medium and make it systematically profitable. The two major shows in web series history – lonelygirl15 and Quarterlife – both ending in 2008 and both often referenced in articles about online TV – have provided little guidance on do’s and don’ts, raising more questions for industry professionals than answers. In general, online television represents a genre of media still in development, and the debates around its possibilities and shortcomings indicate the challenges facing mass media industries today.


The confusion around web serials mostly results from timing, or rather, the fact that the medium is still in its growing stages. Business and production practices are still being fleshed out advertisers, content producers and distributors looking for ways to operationalize the form. Most agree that production costs need to be kept as low as possible, since there is no guarantee of reaching an audience on the web. The definition of “low” is relative, however. Sometimes, series producers will pay extra for stars – as some have suggested for Gemini Division, a show developed for NBC featuring Rosario Dawson (Hale 2008) – and yet other stars take a pay cut in order to experiment with something new. Megan Mullally did not get paid for doing TheWB.coms’s Children’s Hospital, and many of the stars who appear in FunnyorDie.com videos are not paid either, while TheWB.com’s show Rockville, CA uses union actors who are paid. “The one commonality is that all Web series cost a fraction of prime-time TV series, which run more than $1 million per episode for half-hour programs and more than $2.5 million per episode for dramas.” (Owen 2009)

"Anytime with Bob Kushell"

"Anytime with Bob Kushell"

A popular talk show on Crackle.com, Anytime with Bob Kushell, produces 22 episodes in “the mid-six figure range.” (Owen 2009) Another reason to keep costs low is advertisers do not pay top-dollar for ads on web shows – the relationship changes when the advertisers help produce – because the audiences can be a small, the cost-per-thousand rate does not make it much cheaper. For marketers, “the overall investment here is small, but so are the audiences. It’s a niche strategy that could work for some brands.” (Learmonth 2009) Even if a show does attract an audience, the industry lacks a systematized way to decide what constitutes a hit. Unlike Nielsen, which provides ratings based on the number of TV households and the number of people watching at a given time, such a refined system is unavailable – and may be incompatible – in an online environment. New York Times reporter Virginia Heffernan noted that, on a “view-per-episode” basis, Quarterlife was more successful than lonelygirl15, even though the latter lasted longer. Yet she was quick to note that the “unit of success is the flimsy ‘view,’ meaning virtually any click on any part of a series, anywhere on the Web. But it’s clear that we’re not talking about numbers advertisers can remotely trust. Are there really any hit Web serials?” (Heffernan 2008) Especially in a digital environment where everything is purportedly quantifiable, advertisers want proof of engagement, some would argue “views,” and even “subscribers,” as is the case with YouTubers like “Fred,” are not enough.[1] A lack of standard metrics means more creative freedom in some cases. Josh Schwartz (The O.C.; Gossip Girl) said of his web series, Rockville, CA:

“I don’t quite know the metrics of the success, which is also part of what appeals to me. So much of what takes the fun out of doing a TV show is the ratings. The thing that was incredible about this was the freedom. There were no notes on scripts. I was able to cast whoever I wanted to cast for the show, and that was really freeing.” (Chaney 2009)

Yet clearly this kind of freedom will not last forever; once ratings are in place, shows start to get crafted to target audiences.

The success of "Lonelygirl15," relative to "Quarterlife," led Virginia Heffernan to question what a "hit" is online.

The success of "Lonelygirl15," relative to "Quarterlife," led Virginia Heffernan to question what a "hit" is online.

This ambiguity over the metrics of success has problems – notably, in getting the money to create the series – and also leads to interesting conversations about the ontology of what quantifies a “hit” and, indeed, what serials should look like and how they should be structured. Heffernan, saying she preferred the loose, unpredictable, less clearly narrative lonelygirl15, exhibited at first without metrics in mind, to the more rigidly serialized Quarterlife, said that perhaps the idea of a “web serial” and a “hit” are incompatible; perhaps the only video hits will be Susan Boyle and other “viral,” more organic popular videos:[2] “Web serials smack of planning and budgets and all that vestigial Hollywood stuff.” (Heffernan 2008) When distribution is predicated on advertising, budgeting and ratings are key, and web series simply have yet to reach that form of maturity. Of course, all of these issues become less important when web series are seen as testing grounds for launching shows into television; yet the viability of that model is in question, given the mediocre performance of In the Motherhood[3] on ABC and the dismal performance of Quarterlife when it aired on NBC.

[1] Though “Fred” has attracted product placements and advertisers, from Zipit and the film City of Ember. Juntras, Lisan. 2008. What could be more fun than watching a teen act like a shrieking six-year-old?. September 15. The Globe and Mail, L4, and Sanders, Peter. 2008. Studios Hope YouTube Tie Sells Movie. September 18. Wall Street Journal. (It did not work for City of Ember).




[2] Part of this is a discussion involves whether serials should remain amateur – “anyone who has a camcorder and a bright idea can produce a show” – or go professional. (Dobuzinskis 2009)

[3] The network’s lowest-rated show in the 18-49 demographic for the spring season. Gorman, Bill. 2009. Surviving Suburbia, Samantha Who? And Castle Sit On ABC’s Bubble?. April 28. TVByTheNumbers.com. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/04/28/surviving-suburbia-samantha-who-and-castle-sit-on-abcs-bubble/17566

YOUTUBE: Black Vloggers article LIVE May 5, 2009

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UPDATE: I’ve since been writing on black web series, black distribution of online video, and specific shows. For all new posts, see my web series page.

Vlogging While Black

A few black vloggers are beginning to make a splash on the scene. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy. “YouTube is very, very white,” explained Tonya, the blogger from TonyaTKO, who has 22,000 subscribers. With so many videos being uploaded, vloggers vie for prime placement on YouTube’s home page. “It’s very hard for black people to get seen on YouTube.” Like the many types of media that came before YouTube, the black vloggers who get noticed can often fit a stereotype. From the bizarre to the hilarious to the inspirational, here’s a sampling of some of the up-and-coming black vloggers and their winning formula…

Read the full article here.

YOUTUBE: Article coming: YouTube and Vlogging May 2, 2009

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UPDATE: Published article is out.

I shouldn’t really be blogging right now because I have a lot of work to do!

Just to wanted to direct you all to TheRoot.com, where, sometime this weekend or at least by Monday, an article I wrote on YouTube’s black vloggers will appear!

The quotes from the performers are the product of interviews I conducted for a paper on “black existentialism” on YouTube. Incidentally, I’m currently at a wonderful conference at Texas A&M University presenting that paper alongside the likes of Lisa Nakamura, the grand dame of new media and race studies herself!

So check it out, I’ll post more on it later, but I want people to go to TheRoot.com first because it’s a better site than my crappy blog.

ART/VIDEO: Kalup Linzy, Ryan Trecartin Important to Saltz April 22, 2009

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Circulating the blogosphere is a list art-critic Jerry Saltz composed (on Facebook) of notable artists emerging after 1999 (last ten years). Lists are always problematic, and many of these I don’t know because I haven’t been living in New York, but I was happy to see Kalup Linzy and Ryan Trecartin, two video artists who use YouTube to distribute their art and about whom I’m eager to write an article! There are a lot of meaningful connections between the two. (I saw Linzy’s Studio Museum show this past weekend and I’ll post thoughts soon).

Saltz’s List (Art Fag City’s commentary here; thanks for the link):

Jessica Jackson Hutchins
Klara Liden
Tamy Ben-Tor
Dana Schutz
Laurel Nakadate
Huma Bhaba
Juliette Aranda
Kerstin Brätsch
Liz Glynn
Orly Genger
Xylor Jane
Valerie Garlick
Lisa Sanditz
Karin Oliver
Kate Gilmore
Aki Sasamoto
Sara VanDerBeek
Leslie Hewitt
Fia Backstrom (last two in 2008 Whit. Bi.)

Sterling Ruby
Jeffrey Wells
Ohad Meromi
Brain Belott
Robert Melee
Leidy Churchman
Peter Coffin
Alexandre Singh
Garth Weiser
Kalup Linzy
Andrzej Zielinski
Ryan Trecartin (in 2006 Whit. Bi.)

YOUTUBE: Project: Mr. RED April 11, 2009

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In these projects I assume the identity a particular political slant and perform it.

RED: Left/Socialist

GREEN: Capitalist/Libertarian

BLUE: Right/Zealous

WHITE: Whatever I feel like.

YOUTUBE: Better Off “Fred” April 10, 2009

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Better Off “Fred”

By Aymar Jean Christian

What can network TV learn from the runaway success of a no-budget YouTube sensation?


I have six subscribers to my YouTube channel, so you can imagine my jealousy when the news broke that the most popular YouTuber, “Fred,” became the first vlogger on the site to reach one million subscribers. When I last gave a presentation on YouTube at a conference, he was at 950,000, so it was only a matter of time, but I didn’t think it would happen this quickly.

Not enough has been written about Fred, the ADD-afflicted six-year-old character who reached this milestone in less than a year. Sure, CNN hascovered him, as have a few other blogs, but Fred is, at this moment, a sensation who is rewriting the rules of online television, marketing and promotion.

Excuse the pun in the title of this article, but it is interesting to contrast “Fred’s” success with a program like ABC’s Better Off Ted, a well-liked show that seems destined for the chopping block. Once compared to Arrested Development in the Chicago Sun-Times, and deemed “clever satire” by The Hollywood ReporterBetter Off Ted is a good show whose failure makes little sense unless you understand the changing nature of comedy and media production.

Like most network TV shows, Better Off Ted is merely a pastiche of other shows we’ve seen before: zany workplace comedies like Scrubs30 Rock, and Ally McBeal, mixed with the witty slapstick of more avant-garde TV programming like Arrested Development. I can imagine the network’s pitch meeting right now: “It’s Ally McBeal meets Arrested Development, and we can get Portia de Rossi! She hasn’t done anything since we cancelled those two shows faster than our subscription to the Times.” This is everything that’s wrong with television, and that’s coming from someone who watches an embarrassingly high number of shows. Television has become so derivative that ABC actually redid a once-cancelled comedy, Cupid, which unfortunately might get cancelled as well.

Television networks are doing some interesting things, I’m the first to admit, but mostly in drama and not often enough. The now-cancelled Kings is evidence of a network taking a huge chance. But innovative comedy is hard to find, and if I hear of another cop show I’m going to vomit on my remote. Of course, pay cable is doing better. Contrast In the Motherhood and Cupid with Showtime’s United States of Tara—a show easily adaptable to network primetime—and the difference becomes clear. Reviving TV comedy is a top priority in the business, as nearly half of the pilots being produced for next year will be comedies.

So back to “Fred.” Fred, played by 15-year-old Lucas Cruikshank, has created a genuinely new entertainment form. His high-pitched, accelerated voice is addictive. The show’s fast pace and short length are guaranteed to hold any young person’s attention span, and his obvious idiocy is ironic enough to deflect criticism. Moreover, Cruikshank has reinvigorated traditional promotion models—releasing videos late in the week to encourage weekend buzz among his audience of tweens. His hard work has paid off. Between product placements—the film City of Ember and mobile device Zipit have appeared—and revenue from YouTube’s partner program, Cruikshank reportedly makes well into six figures a year, tens of thousands of dollars a month. 

Filmed in his house in the Midwest, I imagine Fred costs virtually nothing to produce. His filming techniques are rudimentary. Unlike network TV shows, whose production costs start in the millions and increase as bigger stars are included, Fred is cheap entertainment. But he has done something new, and the TV world would be wise to pay attention (though there are unsubstantiated rumors of show or movie in the works).

Conservative by nature, corporations do not like to take huge risks, but in order to retain their dwindling audiences, they’re going to have to go crazy and stop taking their meds, just like Fred.

ONLINE VIDEO: Porn 2.0 September 22, 2008

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Porn 2.0

By Aymar Jean Christian

Talking about porn is like talking about money. In America, it just isn’t done. So it’s a special day in life of every boy—and some girls’—when one day a friend pulls you aside and asks: “have you heard of XTube?”

Or YouPorn, YouPornGay, RedTube, Pornotube, Pornhub, Megarotic, Spankwire, TNAFlix, even DList, well, you get the idea.

What are these sites? If you don’t have friends like mine, then maybe you haven’t heard of the newest wave in porn, or Porn 2.0 as it’s being called. It’s YouTube but hardcore, Vimeo uncensored, and it’s become extraordinarily popular. Some of the sites attract about as many monthly viewers as popular news sites like WashingtonPost.com, and by my count the top six sites get as many eyes as CNN.com (27 million), though far less than the smut-free YouTube (75 million). That’s pretty impressive for a bunch of sites that have few outlets for advertising. Most people find out about them during indecent conversations with friends or lovers, samizdat-style, the same way porn’s been historically disseminated.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been living in a cave. These sites aren’t that new. They started getting noticed in the second half of 2006, according to Fleshbot, who’s been documenting the trend with diligence. They grew quickly in 2007. Now in 2008 it seems like it’s past the trend stage and become a staple of porn consumption.

XTube is, in my view, the best of the sites, even though it’s not the most popular. It is the perfect synthesis of what the Internet means today: connecting with others, generating your own material and, in some cases, profiting off that material. Of the top 25 XTube videos viewed recently, only three were clearly “industry” porn, the rest were uploaded by less (financially) endowed individuals. The top five videos have gathered a collective 25 million views, and only one of those was professional. Amateur porn has been around since the home video, but until now most of it has been confined to industrious entrepreneurs with lots of time to market and distribute. Now distribution is easier, the audience bigger and more eager to watch. Amateurs can actually sell their videos online for a few bucks on XTube. Those homemade sex tapes have become a business venture.

That’s because today—correct me if I’m wrong—people are yearning for authentic, sincere experiences. XTube allows people to create profiles, make friends, comment on videos, and subscribe to channels just like YouTube. And most comments are celebratory, a pat on the back for someone else’s good fuck. Sure, production quality isn’t always fantastic, and while some of the most popular videos on XTube will never win awards, they are visceral and raw (yes, very often not “safe” in the traditional sense). Some are sloppy—in real life things don’t always slip in as easily as with professionals! Most of the sets are dull—no posh couches and fantastic lighting. But you get the sense that the aches and groans are genuine, and that makes it hot.

Of course part of the appeal is that it’s fast. Remember the days of getting porn off P2P networks like KaZaA? Waiting 30 minutes for a download could really kill a hankering. No longer. Porn 2.0 sites promise thrills in seconds.

One of the greatest pleasures, besides the obvious one, of these sites is the chance to encounter something new. XTube has a fairly open door policy. There are fat people, ethnic people, old people, fisters, gay people, bi people, ugly people, hot people, S&M people, self-suck fetishists, dildo-play lovers, etc. all one site. Community sites like Ning, which hosts all sorts of communities have flourished by offering people with specific tastes a venue to share videos. (A large part of Ning’s four million regular viewers partake in porn). Porn on the web used to be quite segregated. If you wanted interracial porn you went to this or that site, straight porn at this site, twinks at this site, silver daddies at another one. But many of those sites dump short clips of their videos onto porn 2.0 portals like Redtube and YouPorn. The industry does it for promotion, to drive subscriptions. But for cheap people like myself, a 30-second to one-minute clip is all that’s necessary! You know what I’m saying!

All these sites constitute a profound development in the history of film and porn. Yes, porn is still, mostly, a solitary act, but these sites tell us that we all like sex—all sorts of us—and it’s all okay. It connects us through intimate networks. In the early 20th century, porn entrepreneurs would travel from town to town with a projector, round up interested men, and they would watch it together. Things have come full circle, and we’re all watching each other get off. It’s time to be honest about it.

RESEARCH UPDATE: An Interviewee Interviews Herself May 13, 2008

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Hi all:

So this post comes from my ethnography of camp performers on YouTube. I wanted to share with you all one of my “interviews,” with a very funny and vivacious performer named Crazie Tracie. Crazie Tracie, after I sent her the interview questions she requested, decided to interview herself. Here’s the video she made and how I described it in my report.

One interviewee interviewed herself. I sent Crazie Tracie a list of questions at her request – she did not want a live interview. She soon told me she was “working on the video” and “will load the video and send it tonight.” When this video was posted, Crazie Tracie had assumed the identity of Barbara Stalker of ABSee News – a play on Barbara Walters of ABC – to interview herself using my questions, more or less. Methodologically, this was an interesting example of how YouTubers – and new media users, in general – can take control of their own representations. Many of my interviewees do this every day in interesting ways. Her responses to my questions were good, but necessitated follow-up. More interesting, however, how she showed her own personality – her love of impersonation, assuming characters – she spent more time as Barbara Stalker in the video than Crazie Tracie, though both, I assume, are somewhat fictional.