20 January 2012

Memories of Artistic Integrity

While I'll reserve my overall opinion of Channel Awesome for later (short preview: it's riddled with ambivalence and dusted with a thin layer of passive-aggressive indifference, particularly in light of their stance against SOPA/PIPA), the fact remains that I do follow a few of their content producers with a relative level of vested interest. One that fell off the radar of late, though, is Little Miss Gamer, who had taken a respite of her normal output in favor of other personal projects. Just a few days ago, however, she posted a video of a new puppet-themed series poking fun at the XBox360's Kinect device. The video is getting an almost perfect 50/50 split of likes and dislikes for a number of reasons too myriad to generalize, much less explore.
What caught my attention about this video, however, was something I don't think I'd ever seen before on any other video, which is the ability to take someone else's video, edit it in YouTube's browser-based video editor, and actually post it to one's own channel. My first honest thought was, "Why in God's name would anyone let other people do that?" Really, what's to stop someone taking a video, making only the most minor edit to it, and then posting it to their own channel wherein, by power of the editor's potentially built-in legion of subscribers, its views can exceed those of the original despite the lack of effort on the part of the editor? Consider the implications of this for a partnered channel, whether it's the original or the editor. The point is, someone stands to gain financially from someone else's work (or deprive financial gain) with little to no effort.
Most of you are probably saying, "It's YouTube, what do you expect?" in a tone of voice that not only can I not identify as sarcastic or sincere, but neither can you.
Way back in my college days, which ironically ended the year YouTube came out, I was in a video art class with a rather healthily eclectic group of students who ultimately fell into two camps. One camp felt that the more control the filmmaker had at his or her disposal, the better and definitive the final product is. The other camp felt that the best work was produced under restrictions, even matters of final cut (not to be confused with the software). After screening assignments to each other one weekend, the discussion of grading came up, as some felt simply getting letter grades from our professor was a little bit shortsighted and not the most solid form of constructive feedback. Having just read about the Phantom Editor's re-editing of George Lucas' The Phantom Menace, I genuinely put forth the idea of students critiquing each other by way of editing each other's videos. Some were on board, while others shrieked in horror. Truth be told, I was secretly in the latter camp, but I guess my thinking was twofold, first half being, "Well, what the Hell do I know?" and the second being, "I don't expect what I do in this class to have a life beyond this room, so who cares what some hack job wants to do with it?"
So, there I was today, sitting at my computer, visiting the YouTube page, and actually witnessing something I'd once suggested in a video art class coming to fruition.

Ironically, I've always been a big believer in the saying, "Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
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