Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Behold the Amazing Internet: Fred, Alanis and Jack

Man, remember back in the day before the YouTube phenomenon when we all had to watch television? I know! Geez!

(As a prescript: if anybody has any trouble viewing the embedded video files here, let me know. It is not an exact science.)

In our modern world of direct-download audience impatience, we as a culture of consumers can pick and choose exactly what we want to view -- even if what we are viewing is not, specifically, a good idea.

Such as, say, offhand, just as an example, the beloved cartoon icons of our collective childhoods selling us all cigarettes.

God, that's just masterfully insidious, isn't it?

People complain today about the cynically crass commercialization of youth-aimed media, with toy tie-ins and movie deals and the inevitable terrible video games -- but that is because people today are sissies. You hear me, squeamish parents? Sissies! The lot of you!

Make no mistake, there were some pretty awful messages in the cartoons I grew up with (during my fourth year of university I wrote a political studies paper on the overt and covert ideological content of the major animated films of the 1980s; yes, really) -- but at no point in my young life did I see Optimus Prime turn to Bumblebee and blurt out "Winston is the one-filter cigarette that delivers flavour twenty times a pack!"

Although I'm kind of wishing I had, now. That would have been pretty funny.

And if you thought that was the most amusingly bizarre pop-culture monstrocity you were going to see on YouTube today -- ha! Never underestimate the internet in its ability to produce ideas and concepts you would never in your life have expected.

For example: if there were one thing I was never expecting to write, and if there were one thing you were never expecting to read, it would have been "Alanis Morissette has released a full piano ballad cover of the Black Eyed Peas' 'My Humps' with accompanying video".


This is the best thing Alanis Morissette has ever done, and I say this even as a former aficionado of You Can't Do That On Television. (Boy, was that show title decades ahead of its time.) Nobody's been in any hurry to pay attention to Morissette for quite a while now, especially after mainstream overexposure mercilessly murdered Jagged Little Pill (just as it murdered every popular album of the mid 1990s -- you know I'm right).

But if there's one way to rocket into my good books, it's definitely by taking on My Humps. And that video is deadpan perfect, no question. It's no surprise that the former Nickelodeon ensemble player has excellent comedic timing, and as far as I'm concerned the "you don't want no drama" segment launches the video straight into brilliance.

Speaking of brilliant! (I love segues.)

I've been a longtime enthusiast of You Don't Know Jack, the gameshow-inspired videogame series that specifically aims to be both intelligent and hilariously insulting; I have many fond memories of my father, my siblings and I wasting hours and hours each night playing the PlayStation version until we were all convinced everybody else had memorized the questions and we hadn't. These are my fondest memories of time spent in Brandon; that is because it is Brandon. But I digress.

You can imagine what my initial reaction was when I learned that they've been putting out free, brand new 7-question episodes each Monday since the beginning of March. The writing is spot-on as always, the presentation is almost perfect (the flash hangs up a bit in the second episode, especially on my rickety old computer -- but these are free beta versions, so oh well), and Tom Gottlieb reprises his role as voiceover host Cookie -- which is important, as anybody familiar with the two PlayStation versions of YDKJ knows.

Behold the Amazing Internet! Eat it, television! If it weren't for hockey, politics and Jeopardy, you'd be dead to me!

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