You Tube: Today’s Home Movies?

Posted: April 8, 2012 in employment

They see, they feel, they shoot, they share.  

Michael Strangelove writes in “Watching You Tube: Extraordinary Videos by Ordinary People” (University of Toronto Press, 2010) that, “what was once a simple situation of common patterns, local realities, closed audiences and naive epistemologies is now a complex field of globalized cultural production.”

He was contrasting that which went on during the era of the home movie with that which goes on today in the You Tube era.

Without knowing it, Strangelove was referring to the nieces of a good friend of mine. She talks about them all the time. They are three girls, aged 11, 8 and 6 and they produce home-made videos almost weekly. If they’re inspired by a a movie trailer for “Hunger Games” for example, they’ll shoot a video about it (assuming characters in the film) on an i-phone, edit separate pieces together and share it with family. Call it an “instant home movie”.

You can see this kind of stuff on Facebook and You Tube every day.

Thirty years ago, if you had a home movie camera and you were struck with an idea and shot it on a Super 8mm film, it was a long process. By today’s standards it moved at a glacial pace. If you don’t remember that era you may remember Steven Spielberg’s recent nostalgic thriller “Super 8”. In that movie, the main character shoots his movie on a 8mm film and has to wait almost a week for the film to be “rush” developed.

That slow process (the old homogeneous patterns of traditional home movie making) effected the nature of the content. It took more time to tell the story. Back then, you had to wait. The process could often take weeks from initial idea to screening. And then you needed a projector and a screen.

With the advent of the home VHS (or Beta), after you shot something you could watch the “home movie” if you sat down around the TV. It was linear. It wasn’t edited. It was family. It was archival. It was personal.

Today’s home movie makers can share their work with a bigger “family” (You Tube viewers). The content doesn’t have to be linear. It can be edited. It may or may not be family. It most certainly will be archival. But I wonder, given the ubiquity and reach of You Tube – just how personal it is.

Maybe I’m old school but the emerging norms herald a different mindset. I’m not sure for example, if I’d want to share i-phone video of a child’s birth with the “whole world” seconds after it happens. Too personal. I need more time to contemplate. And I’m not sure anyone would care how I choose to relate to “The Hunger Games”…

But don’t tell that to my friend’s nieces. They see. They feel. They shoot. They share. Now. And for them it is personal and a whole lot of fun. Rumor has it they’re shooting another one …


  1. John – I completely agree with your point about a different mindset at work in deciding what content is public vs. private. For me, that’s where I feel the digital divide the most. I see so much content that I would never dream of sharing, because I can’t imagine why it would be of interest to anyone else!

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