Thursday, March 13, 2008
I've heard a lot of references about The You Tube Generation and if my daughter, India, is any indication, it's an accurate title. She spends hours upon hours there, checking out music videos, mostly.
I guess I have mixed feelings about it. I think that today's generations are being dreadfully spoiled by all this convenience. How can anyone truly appreciate something that is always there at the click of a key or two?
I remember in the 1970's...I went to the art theater for a late show to see Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, which is a pretty subversive and wild ride of a movie. Before the feature, we were treated to some clips of new music. Devo, Elvis Costello and The Clash. I distinctly remember being aware that this was something vital and new. At the time, it was outsider music. And I knew that I wasn't likely to see it sitting around at home.
Later, I used to stay up on Saturday nights and watch Night Flight on the USA Network. Anybody remember that? It was an outstanding program that showed an eclectic mix of music, movies, animation and comedy. You might see anything on it, but I mainly remember seeing outré music documentaries and profiles on the show. I also saw the elusive Ladies and Gentlemen: The Fabulous Stains and other off-the-beaten-track films.
The point is that you had to make the effort to see these things. And for most of us, if you missed it, you missed it. No home taping at the time. And if you happened to be too drunk to remember most of it (as with me many of the times), it was just too bad.
Later Night Flight was tragically canceled in favor of the diluted Up All Night.
Years passed and pretty soon we all had VCRs. I used to rent just about everything, but I always especially loved the tapes that had film shorts and music clips. Like Johnny Legned's Sleazemania. I'd obsessively look over the classified ads in magazines to find videos of weird stuff to be had. I blew a lot of money on stuff...some of it wonderful, some of it a waste of my time. But the fun part of it all was the hunt. It was kind of like gambling and kind of like a sport. And when I found the truly remarkable gems, it was twice as thrilling after going down some dead ends.
Am I just another aging fart that feels disdain for how easy the younger generation has it? Maybe. Maybe so. Like the old codgers we laughed at that kvetched that THEY didn't have movies on tape at their disposal or eleventy-hundred channels to choose from on the TV.
But I still think that, despite the convenience that the Internet has given us, we've lost something. Anarchy at one's fingertips seems cheap and phony. Sure, You Tube and the file-sharing programs allow us to get all the stuff we want for free, but in a way it's cutting the heads off of not only the music industry corporations, but the artists themselves. Why buy something when you can get it for free on your computer? I do like that the record companies are taking it in the rear, but I don't think it's the perfect situation when the musicians and filmmakers get the brownest end of the stick. Especially the truly independent ones.
If I want a collection of music videos or I want to own some music, I do so through the proper channels. It's best to try to support the artists at the source and eliminate as much of the middleman as possible, but we're tearing the guts out of the process by all this computer revolution.