YouTube-tube, by James Shickich
NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
This texteo was made by James Shickich as his final for 2010 LFYT.
In "What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream," Noam Chomsky writes: "The elite media set a framework within which others operate ... That framework works pretty well, and it is understandable that it is just a reflection of obvious power structures."[cit]
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More videos related to the content of this page
YouTube is free. That is, YouTube is free as long as the individual viewer's time is not valued as a monetary commodity. Lack of spectator participation in the traditional commercial presentation of media as entertainment creates radical explosive potential for YouTube as a blueprint for future media. "Spectator participation" means the process of buying a movie ticket, paying for cable, or purchasing DVDs or digital media, and connotes some type of contract between the spectator and media wherein the viewer exchanges currency for entertainment value. This responsibility is a two-way relationship in which the viewer feels obligated spectatorship to the media and the media must present quality.

The nature of free media eradicates the necessity of this contract. The viewer has no obligation to the media and the media therefore has no accountability. Both ends of the contract are left open. This creates a new type of spectator, one who is not motivated by the need for quality, but instead quantity.

The one particularly troubling area of YouTube, which enters into a paradox of this new type of spectator of free media and the previously held contract of commoditized media, is the "full episode" videos.

A "full episode" video exists in the in-between realm of YouTube harkening back to television, film, or digital content that contains some type of standards of quality, but because of its presence as free media does not hold the same value to the spectator. The spectator expects certain conventional standards of commercial entertainment to be adhered to while watching a commoditized medium through a free medium. When these standards are met, the video often involves some type of legal infringement of copyright; however, when they are not met, the viewer becomes uninterested in the material.

A facet of this realm that permeates YouTube is the segmentation of the "full episode" video into clips. These clips act as partial pieces of a unified entity of media that exists in the commercial realm, however they have become standard practice and are utilized in free media. A piece of traditional commercial media (often a highlight or joke) allows the viewer to retain some of their expectation of the media, but also eliminates any need for obligation. If the clip is not satisfactory, there will always be another clip to view. The shorter the duration of the clip, the less important quality becomes. It is here that a video camera filming a television, that is showing a film or show, becomes an acceptable medium through which a viewer can experience media. Whether or not this is the spectators' first experience with the media, cannot be said to always be the case. When media is filtered through so many platforms and mediums, the contrary is often true: that the clip is only viewed by spectators who have experienced the media through its original medium and return to it at their convenience through the use of free media.

Whereas the clip and the "full episode" videos appear regularly on YouTube, there is a third type of video that falls into the paradox of free media spectatorship, one that is less common due to its function as a means of usurping the commercial use of media as a commodity. The "part X" video breaks down a show, film or digital media into several parts that can be viewed in succession so that an entire piece of media is conveyed. These videos are often quickly taken down by the site due to copyright infringement. However, some remain and push viewers to question whether watching a traditional commercial media product filtered through a free media outlet intrinsically subtracts or derogates the original content and experience of that media, and whether this even matters.