Five new YouTube crazes
We’ve done the media a favour this week and come up with a bunch of possible Internet crazes for them to squeeze through their nonsense sausage factory. Videos below.
What prompted this piece are some English students who, earlier this week, thought it would be a jolly good laff to tip some milk over their heads. Why dey do dat? A few reasons: because it’s ridiculous, because they’re students and have large appointments in their iCal titled ‘procrastination’, because milk is one of the few things they own. But the main reason is they want a ride on the Internet’s treadmill of sharing, resharing, liking, commenting and Warholian fame. They want to be the latest bunch of plankers.
And they got it too: The Daily Mail launched at the story like a cat at a bowl of delicious...well, milk! Cat’s love milk and the Daily Mail loves the Internet*. Once they reported it, publications all around the world picked it up, including us.
The Daily Mail is king of the Internet, bumping off the New York Times earlier this year to become the most read online newspaper. Their success is due to savvy use of image-heavy stories traversing the human condition’s extreme edges, from the horrifying to the insanely cute – and also the Kardashians, who seem to sit in both camps. They treat every day like a slow news day, and people can’t stop with the clicking. When ‘milking’ coursed through the Internet’s pipes this week, their greasy, sausage fingered, comb-overed staff members (this how I visualise them) couldn’t jump on it fast enough. Being first to report on the new planking / cinnamoning / Mentos-in-a-lemonade-bottling means sweet hits.
Web hits mean more advertising. More advertising means more budget for photographers to cover stories on giant rabbits and the like.
You can’t help but wonder, would this milk thing have quietly receded without the media propagation? How much are they made ‘real’ crazes only by journalists saying it’s a real craze. To paraphrase Eminem, if it is what they say it is, if it wasn’t then why would they say it is? But wouldn’t the world be a better place if Daily Mail reader Craig didn’t know about it? But now it’s too late and we have this:
Just to put it into context, this kind of norm-defying behaviour could actually be quite brilliant, wonderful and emancipating. How so? Well, if one wasted three and a half years in a Media and Communications degree, one can’t help but think of those revolutionary kids of the sixties: the Situationists aka Situationist International. In their elegant, but slightly nuts, manifesto they wrote
The existing framework cannot subdue the new human force that is increasing day by day alongside the irresistible development of technology and the dissatisfaction of its possible uses in our senseless social life...
So what really is the situation? It's the realisation of a better game, which more exactly is provoked by the human presence.
What would be the principle characteristics of the new culture and how would it compare with ancient art?
Against the spectacle, the realised situationist culture introduces total participation.
Against preserved art, it is the organisation of the directly lived moment.
TL;DR. The gist of this is that by behaving oddly, or manipulating the ‘games’ of society, we actually disrupt the mechanisms of control that those in charge wish us to passively comply with from birth until death. By being creative and active consumers, by using commodities – such as milk – or standard situations in a way that is unexpected, by seeing each moment open to a range of participatory possibilities, we are liberated from the manipulation and repressive false standards of society. And it does happen, and it is seen as powerfully subversive by our masters. A recent example being Pussy Riot, whose video ‘punk prayer’ led to their imprisonment.