April 01, 2013

Deeper Meaning in a Live YouTube April Fools' Gag

As I'm typing this at around 16:45 PDT on April Fools' Day, Google's YouTube is running one of the funniest stunts I've seen in years.

On this currently live video feed we have a pair of presenters reading the titles and uploader descriptions of seemingly rather randomly selected YouTube videos. They're not showing the videos mind you (except for a few being "spotlighted") -- just reading texts from large piles of red and white YouTube cards, in a manner reminiscent of some twisted awards ceremony from an alternative universe.

And in fact, this April Fools' Day event is part of a larger gag (one of many deployed by Google for today -- others included "Gmail Blue," "Google Nose," and more).

In this case our presenters are purportedly in the process of announcing every video ever uploaded to YouTube, in preparation for shutting down YouTube for a decade, while the corpus of existing videos is reviewed to select the "best of them all" -- to be announced in 2023, of course.

What's so very fine about this particular joke is the way the pair of presenters (Donald and Kendra) are playing it all absolutely straight, with barely a smile cracked as they intone out loud video descriptions ranging from touching to ludicrous, all of which appear to be 100% absolutely legit. And of course, the juxtaposition of completely unrelated descriptions only adds to the amusement.

But as this delightful spectacle continues to stream onto a screen to my left at this very moment, I'm thinking that there is a deeper meaning in play.

Those YouTube video descriptions -- from serious to silly, from banal to urbane -- and by definition the videos associated with them -- are a cross-section of real life, in all its stupendous variety and wonder.

Soldiers in battle. Dog eating burger. Bad guitar players. A tribute to a lost friend. Millions and millions and millions of videos, every single one meaning something to whomever took the time to upload them.

Lots of people make money posting on YouTube, but vastly more post simply for the joy of sharing what they care about, and within those piles of cards being read aloud today is the very essence of that meaning -- remarkably clear even absent the actual videos themselves.

I think this is a truth worth noting. And since D and K were just provided with chairs at last, it looks like the show may be good to go for quite a while yet!

Even in the midst of this great April Fools' concept, there is a teachable moment in every video upload, in every video description. Together they're a distillation of so many persons' loves (and hates), desires, fantasies and memories.

That's quite remarkable, really.

And it's no joke.


Posted by Lauren at April 1, 2013 04:54 PM | Permalink
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