Another Thursday, another Throwback: We check in with our writers to ask them to look back into yesteryear, back when things were simpler and celebrity nude photos were just heads photoshopped on bodies and not endemic of the abyss of our cultural soul.
This Thursday, we ask: What was it that got you into YouTube?
It’s strange to think that the thing that brought me to YouTube in the first place eight years ago was music. Today music on YouTube is being treated like a revelation, it’s the next big frontier that the company hopes to conquer with its streaming music service and it’s been fighting tooth and nail with record labels and streaming music rivals to make that a reality. As much as we’ve touted YouTube’s music adventure as a great leap forward, it’s just as much a return to basics.
Before lyric videos, official music videos, fan covers, and VEVO, YouTube was still packed with music. This was in the early days of iTunes, before Apple’s music library had every major record catalog in existence. Spotify wasn’t available in the U.S. yet and occasionally there was a song that you just couldn’t find anywhere else. That’s where YouTube came in. Most things were on iTunes, but EVERYTHING was on YouTube. Obscure covers, live performances, bonus tracks form the Japanese release of an obscure pop-album could all be found uploaded as AMVs. Ironically, as I recently wrote , it’s this same massive trove of off-label music that could help YouTube’s music service to slay the competition.
I don’t recall what song I was first looking for when I started browsing YouTube. This was college me so probably some obscure track by a band from back home, or some previously unheard track that I could ZamZar onto that ancient artifact known as the mix CD. I was obsessed with creating needlessly niche playlists to impress my friends with how deeply uncool my music taste could be. If YouTube has an origin story then for me that is most definitely it, not the vloggers and gurus and comedians of today, not even the grainy ten-minute clips of pirated television shows that I also definitely watched. YouTube, for me, started with low quality recordings of pop-punk or power-pop tracks played over still images of album art. No regrets.
Yeah, I know. Anyone who’s known me for any significant amount of time would not at all be surprised that my choice for this TBT is the super obvious Lonelygirl15 series. When folks thought it was “real,” I hadn’t paid much attention to it. However, with the uproar after its clear indications that this was a scripted series, I ended up taking a peek, and instantly, I saw the storytelling potential.
Nowadays, I think it’s safe to say that our baseline has advanced quite a bit since the DVX days of LG15. Yet as it marched on for 395 videos over the years — a couple episodes of which yours truly PA’d on and can be found as an extra — the community’s self-interpretation of canon as well as its self-expansion of canon became the more interesting draw, and what I believe the show’s legacy will ultimately be.
After creating derivative works (I mean, really, it’s fan fiction) that has some semi-canon standing, at least in the eyes of some members of that community, I saw the potential of YouTube as a place to experiment on story form, and a place to hone your craft, just as I was starting to hone in on what kind of creative person I would be. I’ve also met many of my friends whom I consider family now via this show, so it’ll always have a place on my mental shelf.
I remember back when YouTube first started out, I was in the process of starting a public access TV channel. I said aloud to anyone who would listen, “There’s no future in this YouTube business. If you wanna be a star, you gotta be on public access.” Now here I am all these later, basically a whore for the very machine I decried. Such is life.
But YouTube wormed its way into my heart soon after that woefully inept declaration. And it was a monkey picking his butt that was to be my first taste of the drug. This monkey, who infamously smelled his butt and then passed out from the smell was, I think, a lot of people’s introduction to YouTube. And in a lot of ways, it was YouTube’s most important moment. You see, that monkey sniffing his ass juice essentially summed up the entirety of YouTube for me. It was a place where I could watch amazing videos that I probably couldn’t find on TV. And like narcotics, that butt-sniffing monkey was my gateway drug to a whole world of amazing — and bizarre — moments that weren’t happening to people (or animals) I knew, but certainly were happening. And YouTube was proof.
Pretty soon I was binge watching any video I could of animals doing wild things: monkeys smelling other monkey’s poop, monkeys eating poop, monkeys eating poop and vomiting … the world of monkey skat on YouTube was my oyster — and it was all thanks to this one fantastic video.
What’s your Throwback Thursday video? Tweet us @newrockstars and tell us!