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Just In Case You Weren't Watching -- The YouTube Top 10 of 2010


Parents visiting the PTC website are probably in tune with what's popular in the "barren wasteland" -- a phrase used to describe the state of television a half century ago. However, if the Internet and such services as YouTube are truly going to become the future of TV, can we expect anything better?

This week I received a media release trumpeting the Top 10 most watched videos on YouTube that were released during this past year. I thought it would make for an interesting field trip to have a look at the "future," so to speak, and see if there is any hope of YouTube saving us from what seems to be television's most desperate era. Even more important, I wondered if families will be any better served by the "best" of YouTube than they are parked in front of broadcast TV?

(I debated doing the classic David Letterman thing and starting with Number 10 and working up to Number 1, but for reasons I'll explain at the end of this review, we'll begin at the top...)

#1 -- The Bed Intruder Song:

We're off to a bad start, at least from a family perspective. The top YouTube video takes a news story about an attempted sexual assault and turns it into an entertainment piece. Done by a couple of brothers who use special software called "Autotune" (many artists use it to keep perfect pitch when they sing), they hunt for news stories with eccentric people in them. In this case an interview with Antoine Dodson of Huntsville AL, telling of how a sexual predator broke into his sister's bedroom in the middle of the night, became a huge hit on YouTube and now the song itself is selling on iTunes.

#2 -- Tik Tok Kesha Parody: Glitter Puke -- Key of Awe$ome:

US pop singer Ke$ha's hit song Tik Tok is turned into a parody by a group called Key of Awe$ome. It mocks the song's take on hard partying and brushing your teeth with whiskey by depicting some very over-the-top parents who are convinced their daughter is way too far into drugs and booze. Depending on your perspective, you may or may not appreciate this message -- which also contains some brief profanities.

#3 --The Old Spice Superbowl commercial -- The Man Your Man Could Smell Like:

Every corporation's dream -- make a commercial and manage to have it turn into a viral sensation. If you haven't seen it (or the many parodies it has spawned) it's worth a look. But wait a minute? We're on #3, and the best (in my opinion) thus far is a commercial? Not good...

#4 -- Double Rainbow in Yosemite Park

This is YouTube at it's... ummm... finest. A guy in Yosemite awakes to discover a huge double rainbow towering above him in the sky and provides a euphoric commentary. If the camera work doesn't make you nauseous, his bizarre babbling for over two minutes will test your patience. Also beware that a reference to deity is repeated ad nauseum (pun intended).  And we can thank Jimmy Kimmel for giving this the publicity it didn't deserve. At least now if you hear your kids say, "Double rainbow all the way!" you'll know the root of their lexicon.

#5 -- Greyson Chance Singing Paparazzi:

At Number 5, we finally begin to see some raw talent. After a grade six student named Greyson Chance belts out Lady GaGa's hit Paparazzi at a local school chorus concert, he posts the video on YouTube and it takes off. Eventually it catches the attention of Ellen DeGeneres who brings Greyson on her show. If you want to hear the song without the shaky camera work and poor recording, check out his debut on the Ellen Show.

#6 -- Double Rainbow Song!!:

The Gregory Brothers strike again, and the rainbow becomes a viral song.

#7 -- 3-Year-Old Crying Over Justin Bieber:

The title says it all for this one. A three-year-old girl really needs some sleep but is waaaay too sad about Justin Bieber. The first 15 seconds are cute, but then you begin to wonder why you are still watching it. However, if you manage to endure just a little past 4 minutes, that's where the punch line happens. (I suggest you fast forward to that point.) And yes, she and her sister do eventually get to meet him.

#8 -- Oh... Canada:

Okay... I must disclose a potential conflict of interest. As a Canadian, I was surprised to discover both the #8 and #9 most watched videos on YouTube deal with Canadian issues. Sadly, while the effort in this patriotic piece is commendable, I'm not impressed with the continual image of us Canucks being booze swigging, dope smoking zealots.

#9 -- Tom Brokaw Explains Canada to Americans:

This is more like it... Produced during the 2010 Olympics held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tom Brokaw narrates a six-minute segment about Canada and the country's ongoing friendship with the United States. It brought tears to my eyes.

#10 -- This Too Shall Pass:

And last, but definitely not least, music group OK Go puts their song This Too Shall Pass to video with a tremendous Rube Goldberg machine. This video is worth clicking the "full screen" button and viewing a few times. And just in case there are some camera tricks or other effects used in the making of this, or you want to know more about the process behind the production of this video, check this Wall Street Journal article.

Ironically, at the close of the Top 10 YouTube offerings of 2010, we are noticing some very interesting outcomes: The commercials are often more entertaining than the programs. Talent has nothing to do with popularity. #10 is truly #1. And there are still many pitfalls for family viewing. All this leaves me asking, "Will online television be any better than what we already have?"


Rod Gustafson


Besides writing this column for the Parents Television Council, Rod Gustafson authors Parent Previews - a newspaper and Internet column (published in association with movies.com) that reviews movies from a parent's perspective. He's also the film critic for a major Canadian TV station, various radio stations and serves on the executive of the Alberta Association for Media Awareness. Finally, his most important role is being the father to four wonderful children and husband to his beautiful wife (and co-worker) Donna.

Parenting and the Media by Rod Gustafson

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

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