By Daniel Ucko
As I scribbled down notes on a napkin during Saturday’s first
and hopefully last “YouTube Live,” I was tempted more than once to
spit up my lunch.
While this first time, online variety show seemed promising with
a jumbled list of quirky acts, A-list stars, one-hit wonders and
viral video celebrities, it turned into a sad depiction of how far
a company will go to re-establish its own significance.
The 90-minute rehashing of old material that wasn’t that great
to begin with was worse than any MTV awards show, which at least
involves real celebrities.
Katy Perry and will.i.am count as A-list material, but all they
did was prove they both sing out of tune and are worse at reading a
teleprompter than an uneducated 8-year-old.
While YouTube promoted this first-of-its-kind event, which was
filmed live in San Francisco, as a “part concert, part variety show
and part party,” all I’ve got to say is it sucked.
Not part suck, but full-fledged suck.
Sitting there in the office, watching this “entertainment”
crapfest and commenting on its horrifying nature at every corner,
my opinions editor and I could not believe what we were
While the largest video sharing Web site was attempting to
showcase the “talent” behind some of its most viewed videos,
YouTube single-handedly managed to remove all remnants of funny
from the quirky viral videos that made the site so popular.
Not even the abnormally low voice of Tay Zonday, the star of
“Chocolate Rain,” could save the show. While his viral video was
one of my favorites, I now hate him.
Product placement controlled the rest of the hour and a half,
complete with Guitar Hero, NVidia, and Sierra Mist plugs to add to
the incessant over usage of the word “YouTube,” which had to clock
close to 100.
While YouTube is a very important Web site in today’s wide world
of media and politics, I would call “Live” a few things.
One of them would be a joke.
It’s hard to believe how a company could sell itself out using
its own network, but YouTube has done it.
Saturday’s broadcast was plain and simple proof that the stuff
made on Web cams is meant for the Internet, not real life. Putting
all those inbred YouTube stars together on stage taxed every last
gimmick, and all who contributed lost what little credibility they
There were even video-bloggers reporting on the event during the
A dissection of the viral effects of the “Soulja Boy” rap-dance
video phenomenon and terrible parodies of Barack Obama and Sarah
Palin weeks after the election were equally pathetic.
When OK Go performed its treadmill music video live on at the
MTV Video Music Awards in 2006, it was an impressive feat and
culminated what had just been turning into a cultural
YouTube Live’s only two worthwhile acts, a performance by the
fairly decent Spinto Band and a 30-second Happy Tree Friends
animated short, seemed out of place.
MTV was established enough when it started hosting its own
awards shows, and at least A-list stars and acts made it watchable
in the early days.
YouTube is like a self-consuming snake eating away at its own
Stop ruining what you created and let the YouTubers flourish
naturally, as they were already doing.
The Internet culture has democratized the entertainment
industry, but not without a big shot to quality.
In their natural environment, discovered one by one and then by
millions of Internet users, the viral videos are worthwhile.
But, “Live” was a total, self-generated flop with no depth.
It was one big ratings ploy chocked full of advertisements,
debatably worse than watching “The Hills.”
YouTube creates deal with MGM
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