Video crazy

Posted: Friday, January 08, 2010

I hate to come across as an old fogey, but it seems to me that too many people are having fun watching other people do stupid things.

YouTube, one of my favorite Web sites for seeing and hearing bands and singers, has become a tacky library full of thousands of stupid, poorly done videos, some of which are downright disturbing.

On YouTube, "Fishing, Boating & Other Outdoor Adventures" contains everything from a serious collision involving two boats to a person being engulfed by flames in an explosion.

If you like watching animals convulsing and dying, you'll love "Deer Hunting - Thunderstruck," which shows hunters in Texas shooting deer from stands with the Australian band AC/DC playing the macho, hard-rock "Thunderstruck" in the background. The message this sends to non-hunters is not that hunting is a noble tradition that should be honored and protected.

In "5 SECONDS FROM DEATH! AN ALASKAN BROWN BEAR CHARGES," two cheechakos glimpse a small brown bear on a trail near the Kenai River, and then try to turn the brief sighting into an epic scary movie. The only thing scary was that one of them was armed.

What YouTube does for sport fishing is depressing. There seems to be an ongoing contest to see who can make the all-time stupidest video of people who use fishing and boating as an excuse to use profanity and consume alcohol to excess. One of the "drunk fishermen" genre of videos stars a fishing guide drunkenly operating a boat in a river. Not surprisingly, no one is wearing a life jacket.

Don't get me wrong. I grew up watching Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges, and I love slapstick humor. But most of these homemade videos aren't funny. They're just stupid.

Another symptom of this silliness is the on-going popularity of "America's Funniest Home Videos" -- AFV. It's one thing for people to injure and make a laughingstock of friends, relatives, innocent children and pets for 15 minutes of fame and cash prizes. But it's another kind of sickness to laugh at these videos, as studio audiences invariably do. The show, which debuted in November 1989, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, a sad tribute to I'm not sure what. Finding humor in seeing a child or pet injured or traumatized is insane. To me, AFV ought to be renamed "America's Stupidest Home Videos."

As for YouTube, it's sad what's allowed into this digital museum. It contains some truly wonderful videos, available to everyone at no charge. However, having "Drunk Guide" in the same venue as Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" is just wrong.

Les Palmer lives in Sterling.

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