YouTube 1:0 Gottschalk
Before the days of YouTube, things worked differently. In the morning before lectures started, you'd ask your fellow comedy fans: "See Harald Schmidt last night? What about Stefan Raab?" Course. Collective snorts of laughter. Now YouTube seems to be the mecca for all of the world's aspiring comedians. The humour of a burping US teenager alongside the subtle antics of a comedy cat. Currently topping the favourites list: the clip with two brothers having an argument and the little one bites the older one's finger. That's all it takes, and before you know it, hundreds of people are re-enacting it and posting it on the Net. How positively thrilling.
Which brings me to the age-old philosophical question: Are we dumbing down?
Now take a deep breath: Do you think conventional entertainment expands the mind? "Benissimo", the old folk's favourite from Switzerland? Or "Wetten, dass…?", the Saturday night crowd-puller that appeals to everyone, hosted by Gottschalk with his old man's jokes and corny puns? Or at worst Carla Bruni with her little-girl's-voice harping on about a load of old nonsense: "People shouldn't criticise politicians all the time, after all they're working day and night for the common good".
Never mind the two brothers, it's her finger you'd want to bite. But in this old medium, you're completely powerless. It's all about gawping at a screen. At least on YouTube you can join in with slating Bruni rather than idolising her, you can chase Sarkozy across the stage as a manic Napoleon, see Bush choking on his beloved pretzel, and lead Sarah Palin, the gun toting vice presidential candidate and hockey mum, onto black ice and watch her promptly fall flat on her face, her fancy backcombed hairdo ruined.
YouTube freaks call it remixing. They pick up official images from news channels - which means by the way that they are interested in the news, and not just Jass & Gottschalk - they trawl through reality satire in the deadly serious business of image cultivation. They then mess about with the clips until all you can see is the satire. And in so doing they disrupt television's worship of stars and celebrities.
Their antics are rarely high-brow. But they often get a laugh. And above all: Kids no longer just sit and watch TV. They ask questions like: How can I transform, remix and comment on the TV content? A new supremacy towards the media. The result is nothing extraordinary. But it marks the end of spending hours gawping blindly at the drivel on TV. People are breaking out. This is the birth of an insubordinate individuality. And not all births are a pleasurable experience.