(New York–NY) First, a disclaimer, for those of you waiting for laughs to follow (And for those of you thinking about posting a comment that starts “we’ve been waiting since your first article… C’mon, be more original than that.), you won’t find any. Every movement needs to a) be called a movement and b) have a manifesto. Since nobody else has done so yet and since I have the right mix of ego meets delusion, I figure I may as well take a shot at The Manifesto of Video On The Web…or Ed-E-festo. Hey, you write one, you can name it after yourself.
Since 2000, maybe even before, video has played a major role on the web. Yeah, you in the back, I know it was on the web before. But it was around 2000 that our friendly telecom monopoly realized that making broadband available to the masses, i.e. reducing the price was a money maker. And let me further define “web video”. This is largely content generated by people like you; yes, you in the back digitizing me on your cellie for download on YouTube or the five thousand other video portals that have since sprouted up on the web like mushrooms in what’s left of the rain forests after a monsoon.
NEW MEDIA WARLORDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY STAKE YOUR CLAIM
For the first time, thanks to said telecom behemoths, we know them all: LonelyGirl15, Rocketboom (Amanda and the Other One), Where The Hell Is Matt, Eepy Birds, the Blendtec guy, the list goes on. For the first time since the beginning of movies in the last century, we have a new technology and new stars. And you know what’s even better? When movies started, your average Matt, Amanda or the Other One couldn’t participate. Making movies cost a lot of money, and that was just to buy Fatty Arbuckle out of the Coke bottle sodomy charge. Now the screen belongs to anyone with a mini-DV and a hard drive. At least that’s what the telecom and traditional (TV/Move) content producers want you to believe.
Why do I say “believe”? Let me drop some knowledge on you. Around 1910, there were over 150 movie production companies. By the late 1920s, there were four majors: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Universal. The same held true for the automobile industry. (I may be a bit off on these dates and numbers. I’d look it up on Wikipedia, but I’m too lazy; and it probably would be off as well.) The lesson? Industries tend toward a monolith structure in a capitalist environment. Don’t believe me? What about the trinity of Google-YouTube-Viacom? Don’t let the lawsuit fool you. They want to play nice.
So what’s the difference between the movie industry at the beginning of the last century and the web video revolution (soon to be industry) of this century? You. The telecom and video content junta have given you the power with their Wal-Mart broad band rates and miniDV, phones and anything else that captures video. To increase profit on the consumer level, they’ve opened up the iron gates that guarded movies and TV. Now that they’re open, they can’t figure out how to close them. How to exclude you from creating content that can blow out on the web? Let me be more clear: How to exclude you from creating effective content. Rest assured, though, they’ll figure it out. That’s the wonder of American capitalism. They just need time, and they’re buying time by telling everyone that they can be a star but that you can’t profit from your videos.
Well, they don’t really sell it that way. It’s more of “for the first time we see a democracy of ideas on the web, where everyone can have their say, and everyone can be a star. Money doesn’t matter anymore.” Really? What about the aforementioned Google-YouTube-Viacom trinity? The con they’re playing is on everyone’s ego. But here’s the truth. Not every one can be a star. Not every video gets a ka-zillion downloads, and if it does, that doesn’t make it effective content. As soon as we see that, we have a chance to be true New Media Warlords of the 21st Century.
And here is my Ed-E-festo on how to do that.
IT’S NOT AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS. IT’S ENTERTAINMENT
Why did shows like “Americas Funniest Home Videos” and “Cops” show up on TV in the late 1980s and through the 1990? There was a recession going on in LA-LA land, and they were cheap to do; a small staff with all of the content generated by viewers, because all viewers want to see themselves on TV to be stars. Sound familiar? Isn’t that how YouTube, Break, Digg and too many more to name get all of their content? But how can you see some shekels from the clip you submit of your cat wearing a beret and playing with a baguette while Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets” is the sounrack? How about the 5,000th clip of a baby farting? Yes, these have a place. But that’s not the job of The New Media Warlord of the 21st Century. That’s noise to obscure the New Media Warlord from hearing the web truth, the pursuit of Video 3.0.
The truth is that it’s still about telling an intriguing story, whether that’s a web talk show, a web series. The further the truth is not everyone can do that. Here’s a sad fact that must be acknowledged for the New Media Warlord to profit from the web: You can’t all be stars. But now more than ever in any point in history do those people who understand it’s about a compelling story have a chance to step up an be noticed. The rules of what made for standout entertainment on TV and in the movies have not changed. You, my fellow New Media Warlords, need to see that and realize that now for the first time in history you have the tools (technology and distribution) to do it.
DAVE CHAPPELLE SHOW US THE WAY
Whatever you think about Dave Chappelle, he had the answer. Why was his show such a success? Comedy Central didn’t mind putting it on the internet. And what happened? People started passing it around like a well rolled blunt at a Peter Tosh concert. And the rest is a seven figure deal and sojourn in Africa. But I hear you saying, “Ed, see he put his clips on the web. Just like when I posted my brother lip-synching to “Born on the Bayou” while wearing an adult diaper. That got 1500,000 views in a day on Break.com.” No, dumbass, it’s not the same. “Chappelle’s Show” was broadcast quality in every way first and THEN put on the web. More to the point, it was an ongoing franchise around which profit (I know that’s a dirty word to some of you. But if you don’t cash in on it, the telecom industry will.) could be made. “Chappelle’s Show” was entertainment. You brother dancing in an adult diaper is not. You can comment however you like. It’s not. The New Media Warlord of the 21st Century knows that.
WARLORDS OF THE WEB UNITE. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR POVERTY
Okay, so those of you who are still cutting me some slack by reading and waiting until the end to flame me are asking, “Fine. I’ll buy it. Tell me how?” Fair enough. The easy answer would be for the Warlords to hold back their content on video portals until a fair compensation structure is reached, like it happened in Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s when the Screen Actors and Writes Guilds were formed. But to do that, you need to unify; and the web it too big for that, too amorphous. The answer? Use the web to beat the web.
The term “community” isn’t just a synonym on the web for forum. Everyone actually has the ability to reach, well, everyone. What are you waiting for? Sit down at the virtual table with the other Warlords. Strike alliances. You see a web show you like write (e-mail) to unite. This is how I handle Ed-E-torial. I see a fellow Warlord on the web, and I invite them to be on my little show. If we keep doing this, all of our shows will be connected and enrich each other. We can then move as one unit posting on sites, getting larger and larger views and then we can go to the Man of the portals and demand that they sit down at the virtual table with us to sell advertising on our shows. If they refuse, we, all united, now can walk away with our, and here’s the key word, entertaining video content. And that’s not a bar trick captured on a cell phone.
I hope not. I hope all of you (Warlords or not) will debate this. Call me a dreamer, a know-nothing. Acknowledge me not a Warlord (Yeah, I see that one coming too). But if nothing else, I hope you’ll see that your time to claim your right on the web will soon be over. George Bernard Shaw said, “If there’s one thing Man learns from history, it’s that Man doesn’t learn from history.” Prove the dead Brit wrong.
This is Ed E. Druckman coming to you from the web, where no one is safe…not even me.
If you like, check out Ed-E-torial.