Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is Infotainment

I’ve never been to Australia, but from what I hear there is a different sense of time down there. This news item from the Macarthur Chronicle confirms my understanding. This article about the video above is from the paper’s October 28 issue, but the video was posted on Youtube a year ago. Hardly breaking news, or even news for that matter. The paper didn’t even bother to get the real name of the person responsible for the footage.

Someone using the handle “tubeoffroad” shot the video, thinking the wispy cloud resembled Jesus with outstretched arms. The video has gotten over 8,000 hits, which is nothing when compared to other similarly themed videos, some of which have been viewed over 400,000 times.

This particular video has also generated a smattering of comments, most notably one from tubeoffroad: “WOW! Today, 28 OCT 2008 I'm on the front page of Macarthur Chronicle local newspaper. Unbelievable! About time I made the front page.”

I’ve never even thought to look at Youtube for these sorts of clips, but I guess that’s because I’m interested in how the media gets hold of these stories. But, in this day and age, Youtube is a very real facet of the media. The viral nature of this website, and many others, is such that if you get enough people viewing whatever it is that you’ve created it becomes news. A great example is the Obama Girl. That video was originally posted in June 2007, and since then more than 10-million people have viewed it with new comments popping up every few minutes. The video and its star, Amber Lee Ettinger, have been topics of pretty much every major news outlet. So, tubeoffroad’s attitude is kind of understandable within this context, as s/he clearly had the expectation of the video translating to news media/pseudo-celebrity status.

I used the word on this blog for the first time a couple of posts ago, but this story is the essence of “infotainment.” I’d much rather squint my eyes and try to discern a religious or secular icon than spend my time figuring out which parts of the news are truly newsworthy and which parts are just people trying to get notoriety. I guess it’s all kind of the same anymore . . .

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