Lazy Friday Video Links

Taking a mental break this afternoon from some of the work I should be doing, so instead I’m watching and linking to some of my favorite recent videos, many of them courtesy of Michael.

JibJab’s latest, “What We Call the News” is pretty good, a decent parody of cable news. Seems like they’ve been subject to a lot of backlash lately, which I don’t really get. Maybe I’m missing something?

Related: PoliticsTV’s Top Ten: The Greatest Political Web Videos of All Time. It’s an interesting list. JibJab’s “This Land,” Colbert’s White House Correspondents Dinner speech, and George Allen’s “macaca moment” are among the top videos, but so is the camera phone recording of Saddam Hussein’s execution, which doesn’t strike me as “political” exactly (at least in the narrow sense of the term). I’m becoming increasingly interested in conversations about “political” videos, so the PTV video has given me something to think about.

Michael also points to Nate & Matt Meet David Lynch, a video in which two guys randomly run into David Lynch, a cow, and an Inland Empire poster while he is promoting Laura Dern for Oscar consideration.

I’ve been planning to write something on Karina’s post about Jennicam and Justin.tv, but I haven’t had time. Karina writes that “Justin.tv, produced by a camera mounted on a man’s forehead, with a feed streamed live through a television studio inside a backpack, inverts the driving principles of JenniCam by replacing a single, intimate space with the entirety of the outside world. It’s no longer about voyeurism, because Justin himself isn’t revealing much of anything; he’s actually turning the spectators into the exhibitionists.” While you’re at it, be sure to check out David Letterman’s interview with Jennicam “star” Jennifer Ringley. Hoping to come back to this discussion at some point in the near future.

Finally, one of the funniest videos I’ve seen this week: Kermit the Frog covering Johnny Cash’s version of the Nine Inch Nails song, “Hurt.”

Update: I forgot to mention the notorious videos of Lily Tomlin and director David O. Russell cursing each other out on the set of I [Heart] Huckabees. Also check out this hip hop remix of their fight and great re-enactment of one of their epic fights.

Update 2: And since everyone else is linking to it, I’ll join the club: The Seven-Minute Sopranos. Can’t wait for the new season to start.

Update 3: Oh, and via Michael on del.icio.us, I just came across the “final” version of Michael Wesch’s “The Machine is Us/ing Us.” Not sure I have anything to add to my comments on the previous version, but worth checking out.

6 Comments »

  1. michael Said,

    March 30, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

    What is up Atrios’s ass? That is so lame. Loved the Huckabees remix, btw.

    I think “political” here means “having to do with the news,” where “news” means important matters and not the tabloid crap JibJab is mocking. And maybe it’s “political” in another sense, that the Sadaam video made Bush and his administration look bad. It had political utility.

  2. Chuck Said,

    March 30, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

    It wasn’t just Atrios. Many of his commenters were also hating on the Jib Jab kids.

    Seeing the videos in terms of “political utility” makes sense. Maybe I’m having trouble with the fact that they compiled so many different kinds of content, including “videos” of unaltered content that initially appeared on TV (Colbert, Stewart). I *like* most of those videos, but the categorization seemed a little broad to me.

    The Huckabees remix is great. There’s also a trance version (as well as a number of other interesting responses), but the hip hop version is far better.

  3. Matt Said,

    April 1, 2007 @ 11:18 pm

    I felt that many people embraced “This Land” because of its criticism of Bush. As they did so, they overlooked the ways in which it reinforced right-wing, Fox News memes against Kerry.

    From a liberal perspective, the latest JibJab video is a joke: yes, it’s a problem that cable news programs have replaced anchors with bimbos, and that they spend more time on Anna Nicole than on Darfur. But a far more serious problem (at least from where I stand) is the fact that cable news repeats political spin without contextualization or criticism, that it has been manipulated by the media-conscious Bush administration in a thousand different ways, and that Beltway journalists are ensconced in the same bubble of privilege as the politicians they cover.

    JibJab covers none of this, and instead goes for the low-hanging fruit. That’s fine, but let’s not talk about JibJab as if it were performing some kind of radical (or even radically funny) critique of its subjects: it mostly repeats conventional wisdom on whatever topic it parodies. In this, it is like a parody of a parody.

  4. Chuck Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 1:43 am

    Matt, you’re right, of course, to point out that the latest Jib Jab video isn’t critical enough of the news media, especially on a structural level. And, honestly, I didn’t find it nearly as funny or interesting as “This Land” or “Big Box Mart,” but their videos are probably a bit of a guilty pleasure for me at this point.

    I think I was aware of “This Land’s” political problems because I’d taught the video at Georgia Tech in a course focused on the 2004 election and was (only mildly) surprised to find that my conservative students liked it as much (or more) than I did because it reinforced their views of the election and the candidates.

    And more recently, when discussing the Jib Jab videos, I ended up criticizing them for reinforcing a cynicism towards politics that I find somewhat unproductive. But yeah, they’re far from radical, certainly not nearly critical enough.

  5. Matt Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

    I just wanted to add, Chuck, that JibJab’s attempts to spread the blame across the political spectrum make it the comedic equivalent of Crossfire — and I think it deserves the same type of criticism that Jon Stewart directed at CNN’s show.

    Overall, I find JibJab to be overly reductive. However, I think that it might be useful to think about that reductiveness as a way of distilling and thinking further about larger memes, since it seems to replicate them so well.

  6. Chuck Said,

    April 2, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

    The “Crossfire” analogy makes sense. I do think the Jib Jab videos at least have the benefit of being funnier than Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, but by spreading blame equally across the political spectrum, they also contribute to the cynicism that Stewart was trying to criticize.

    Your second point, about Jib Jab’s complicity in replicating political memes, is an interesting one, and it might b something I think about when I write on viral political videos (a project that’s on my to-do list).

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