While at the NewTeeVee Conference, Justin made a good observation, saying -- "It kind of feels like it's a frat house, and while we're guests at that frat house, no one really knows who we are." Or why we didn't bring any beer.
Generally, we didn't mind. We can't really compare ourselves to anyone, even Goodnight Burbank -- a good show -- isn't really like Break a Leg. In fact, most of the internet video community is either vlogging, people talking about vlogging, people satirizing vlogging, or people just talking to a camera -- which, really, is vlogging. Or flogging, as Larry would say.
Everyone vlogs and flogs and no one makes any money -- or they do, but not a lot. And then we hear things like, "There's no money in internet video." My theory is that there's no money in internet video because there's no quality in internet video. In other words, most of internet video is horrendous.
The current community prides itself for not being like regular TV. And so it has created a funny community where everyone knows each other and holds gatherings like the Winnies, and pats themselves on the back, but really, we're promoting sub-par material.
Okay, before I get lynched -- I'm not saying everything out there made by independent creators is sub-par. I'm just saying that everyone pats each other on the back and doesn't push their cohorts into making something better or different. So what happens? Sub-par material. Okay, maybe I was saying that.
It's a funny time. Because it feels like the independent creators are stubbornly holding on to making cheap, easy things that look, well, not so good by, say, professional standards, while professionals try to make their own professional videos look hip and bad, so that the internet loves them (I'm looking at you, Quarterlife.)
When people ask me what I watch online, I have a really hard time answering. Honestly? I watch Space Wasters -- which is a local San Francisco show that's generally just starting up (I'll write a blog on them soon) and it's, I think, really funny and a lot better than a lot of stuff that's out on the internet. Can it get better? Of course. It can have better sound, sharper cuts, etc. But the same can be said about Break a Leg -- and both we and I'm sure, Space Wasters, try to improve on each episode.
And that's really what I'm getting at. It feels like no one is trying to improve. Every idea is: "OKAY SO THERE'S THIS WEBCAM." or, "I'm going to make a mock news show... on my webcam." Someone, for the love of God, just buy a damned camera.
Until the community stops patting itself on the back and rallies together saying -- you know what? Let's stop complimenting one another on how cheaply made our show is. Let's actually work hard on creating interesting characters, plots, stories -- art.
Am I saying Break a Leg is an example of what I'm saying? I think I'm saying that. And if you, for a moment, think I'm arrogant for saying so -- well, you may be right. But the fact that Justin has to pencil in his girlfriend for a date or that we have to sneak a few hours here and there to relax and play a video game once in a while shows that we're dedicated to this quality thing. Because we're dedicated to this entertainment thing. Because we've been raised to believe that mediocrity is not acceptable. Because, once everyone realizes it -- the future of the internet isn't thousands of vlogs or hundreds of sleepy kittens, it's interesting, well-put together entertainment that can make you laugh, cry and sit rapt in front of your screen, waiting for the next installment of whatever you're watching to come out.
If only we can get there already.
Addendum: Two things.
One, I'm not really speaking to your general YouTuber or any of you guys that are just making videos to be part of a community, to talk, to have fun, etc. That's not at all who I'm speaking to. In fact, I think it's great that the Internet provides that kind of access and I support it wholeheartedly. I'm talking about the people who dedicate themselves to creating internet shows, specifically, to entertain audiences. I feel they have a certain obligation to push themselves to get better and grow in everything they do.
Secondly, I definitely like more than one show online. I'm a big fan of Joey and David, Robb's show, Life from the Inside is good, a lot of For Your Imagination shows are unique and fun (and I'm not just saying that because they're our marketing guys -- I honestly mean that. Plus, they're our marketing guys!)
Thirdly, I love the word addendum. I don't even think I know how to pronounce it, but boy, is it pretty.