Amateur Disaster Footage: A Manifesto



“We enjoy contemplating the most precise images of things whose actual sight is painful to us, such as the forms of the vilest animals and of corpses.” – Aristotle, Poetics

We are the amateur disaster videographers. We record horrible events and tragedies. Spontaneity is key. Luck is essential. A strong stomach is encouraged.

We don’t have fancy shmancy HD cameras. We didn’t go to film school. We don’t know Ken Burns from Ken’s Steakhouse. But we do know a dramatic event when we witness one. And we know that something is compelling us to pull that iPhone out of our pocket to point and shoot.

Cave paintings. Imagine ghostly stick figures hunting a mighty mastodon. That’s the human urge to record hair-raising, fatal instances. Fast-forward to yellow journalism: Hearst and Pulitzer started an arms race to sell newspapers through sensationalist gore. Capturing the moment where JFK’s blood splattered Jackie’s pink jacket was just a fluke initially, but it grew to so much more. Media companies clamored to buy the film off of Zapruder, and even today, it has hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. Even though the genre of online video is new, the motive behind it is not.

Are we terrible people? Are we sick monsters banking on human suffering? Do we just jealously feed off of others’ misery? No. We fulfill a basic human need, just like food, like water, like shelter. The need to stare. The need to gape. The need to be shocked. This need is evolutionarily beneficial. We gaze at these atrocities to remember them, to mentally note just how they happened, in order to prevent them in the future. It’s psychology. It’s innate. It’s human nature.

And let’s not forget widespread activist revolutions, like the Arab Spring of 2010. Without our twisted genre, the Western World would only know the horror through bland newspaper articles and cheesy, watered down documentaries five years later. Raw footage, however macabre, tells you what’s really happening now. And isn’t that what democracy is all about? To give the general public hard data to inspire action?

Our genre is more than a type of online video. It’s a tool. It’s a weapon. It’s as dangerous as the events it displays. Don’t take our genre lightly. Don’t watch too many in one sitting. Don’t get sucked into a rubberneck whirlpool of horror and fear and guilt. Ultimately, you have to go on with your unremarkable life, because not all of us can pull out a camera phone and shoot the shooters.

The Higher Class of Extreme Sports Video Enthusiast’s Manifesto

We are the HCESVE, or rather, the Higher Class of Extreme Sports Video Enthusiast. The Higher Class—those who are above the stunt man’s home video… those who are better than the make shift taped helmet cam…those who won’t ever be seen in the right lane, simply exist on a different level than the rest. Our roots start at the Clifton Suspension bridge and don’t have an end, for we are forever growing. You see, our nature is to be over the top. Our passion is to be faster than you. Our mission is to exhaust our body and resources completely, and then find any extra juice stagnant in our tank. Oh there isn’t anything left? Well we’ll just have to make the tank that much bigger, then. We lead our lives, like we brush our teeth: sub 30 seconds and with a planned, controlled chaos.

The Higher Class makes no exceptions when it comes to the expectations of what we choose to watch. No HCESVE member will watch a video that is not sweat provoking. By rule, we cannot even begin a film that’s not of at least HD quality. It isn’t our way. Members fiend for videos that put us there, that make us believe we too could possibly die from whipping around that corner to pickup enough speed to clear that monster 10 stair leading into traffic.

The Higher Class doesn’t just watch the tour de France, we watch Lance Armstrong Highlights on our iPad while participating in last length. We don’t go out to see Chuck Norris movies; instead, we take 3-D/ 360 degree footage of ourselves spar training him for his upcoming film. The High Class Enthusist don’t settle for this:

The quality is not up to our standards and any average man can fall off a bike.

Contemporary R&B Music Videos: A Manifesto

Glitz. Glamour. Fashion. Fame. Sensuality.

Contemporary R&B artists embody all of these things. Their music videos shape who they are as artists, and how they present themselves to the world. They showcase the talents of these artists, from singing to dancing to fashion. These talents are often portrayed in a very sexual way. Yet, R&B music videos attract a wide range of people, regardless of race, age, or gender. Their popularity and sexual nature lend them much potential to promote social change. Video makers must be conscious of this potential, so that R&B music videos are used to reinforce positive self-images and social norms regarding women and gender equality.

Some R&B music videos sexually objectify women. They show unknown bodies and pretty faces dancing provocatively in skimpy outfits. The purpose these women serve in the video? To cater to the male artist’s desires and ego. This message must not be shown to the world. A woman’s sole purpose is not to serve a man. Her sexuality is not defined in his terms. She has desires and talents of her own, and these must be demonstrated to the world.

Female R&B artists demonstrate these things. Makeup, high-heels, and sex appeal. These women know how to use their music videos to show off what they got. And what they got is usually pretty sexy. But their sex appeal is not their only talent. They write lyrics, sing, and dance, providing entertainment to millions. Take Beyoncé’s “Diva” music video for example. I’d like to see a man walk in those heels, let alone dance in them.

In music videos like these, the artists’ overt sexuality does not objectify her; in fact, it does quite the opposite. It shows that a woman can be confident in her sexuality and also be extremely talented. She has a personality, a successful profession, and all the fame and glamour a person could dream of. Yes, sexuality is one of her many assets (pun intended); however, she has complete ownership over it, and it is not her only skill. Her stunner looks simply augment her status as an independent, successful, and powerful woman. So basically, these videos portray female sexuality in a positive light. This is the message R&B music video creators need to send. We need to let the viewers know that it’s no longer the 1960s, and that they’re not Don Draper. And sure, women’s capabilities are much more recognized in today’s society, but we’re going for complete gender equality here. None of this subtle bias towards men that creates statistics like how men on average earn more than woman who do the same job. If you’re a guy reading this, I’m pretty sure Beyoncé gets paid more than you. But I could be wrong.

Anyways, I applaud female R&B artists, who show us that women can be successful like men and look good doing it. Music video creators should illustrate this fact. They must use their powers of creation to continue portraying female sexuality in a positive light. Not only will they be creating something visually appealing and entertaining, but they will also be reinforcing a lesson in gender equality. Videographers, you not only have the power to entertain, but you also have the power to promote social change. Realize this potential, and embrace it.



A Farewell: The Final Post of the Non-Official Political Ad

I bid farewell to this blog, to this class, but certainly not to surfing the Internet for unofficial political advertisements.  I have explored an entirely new realm of viral ads that I barely knew existed.  I have further learned a great amount about the definition and the history of the genre within this past month—something I certainly wouldn’t have studied on my own time…. And I am glad this class allowed for me to explore this new field of viral videos.

Throughout this month, I have just barely touched upon the surface of the unofficial political ad genre.  I directed my focus on just the American party politics sub-genre as opposed to all the unofficial political manifestos surfacing the Internet, such as this clever advertising campaign set forth to promote aids awareness:

As for the viral videos I have discussed throughout the past month, I would like to conclude on the genre of the unofficial political ad campaign.

For all you government majors out there, this genre is for you. 

If you appreciate parody and satire, this genre is for you.

Those who fully study and comprehend American party politics and where our country currently stands, this genre is for you.

Even those who have no freakin clue about politics, yes, this genre is still designed for you.

The social media junkies out there, yes you there (you are reading this blog), this genre is for you.

All of you who experience viral videos that constantly flood your inbox; sure, this genre is also for you.

Those who just want a good laugh, this genre is for you.

And, for you who like a serious controversial hot topic in the making, this genre is definitely for you.

I see great controversial, satirical, burlesque, humorous, yet educational productions in the near future for the unofficial political ad.  I am confident that this genre will thrive in the next ten years with technology and social media continuing to take off.  I’d hope to see more controversy, more parody from both sides of the political spectrum, and even more satire… I say out with the serious, and in with the hilarious, when it comes to the future of the Non-Official Political Advertising genre!

Who knows?  Perhaps other genres defined throughout this manifesto blog will morph together with this genre to send the unofficial political ad into an evolution frenzy representing several key viral video genres….

Video Dubbing Manifesto

The video genre known as “video dubbing,” or dubbing for short, has a rather short history, and thus is still in its early developmental stages, but has potential to be an influential medium for commentary and criticism while also providing a humorous look on many often overly dramatic aspects of life. Dubbing, also known as rerecording, was first used in films to fill in blank audio, or for translating purposes.  To dub video is to simply record over the original audio with new audio.  The genre of dubbing over footage for the purpose of creating something new was born from this practice of dubbing for the sake of editing.  Before the web, plenty of films were dubbed for editing purposes, and almost any film can found dubbed in another language, so the history of dubbing is vast, but the history of clip dubbing is more specific. The first online dubbed video I can find comes from the YouTube account day job orchestra, and it was uploaded in 2006.  The video is a dub of news footage with several different characters.  The creators were clearly not trying to accurately dub the video, but instead were just trying to be as vulgar as possible in an attempt to be humorous, but they were not successful in this endeavor.

I would surmise that the target audience for dubbed videos was originally young people, due to the vulgarity and lack of editing in early videos.  Young people, when browsing through online videos, are generally more likely to watch a vulgar, less-than-perfect video than an older person.  However, now that BLR has become the main provider of dubbed videos, I would say the target audience has shifted to just about anybody looking for a funny video.  BLR has upped the quality of video and really opened the genre to the general public. There are three main clip dubbers online:  Bad Lip Reading, dayjoborchestra, and jaboodydubs.  Of the three of them, BLR is the most recent on the scene, and clearly the most creative and original of the three.  As well, BLR has the best quality video and audio, and it is clear the BLR puts more effort and thought into their videos than djo or jd.  BLR is also still producing videos, their most recent video having been uploaded on January 15th 2013.

The most famous, and the most creative group that produces these dubbed videos is the “Bad Lip Reading” group.  This dubbing idea is extremely well executed by the BLR group.  A great example of the abilities of BLR is the video “’Herman Cain’—A BLR Soundbite,” in which Herman Cain’s campaign motto is: “Everybody needs toucan stubs.”  Lines like “McDonald’s special.  Give me a large plate.  Then I’ll sing, sing, sing about it” and “Mexican people don’t eat sugar, especially when it’s a mixture of lice and tiger DNA” seem to fit so perfectly with the video of Herman Cain and his actual words, and really allows the viewer to see that not everything is so serious, that if you look closely enough, there is humor in everything.  BLR has the freedom to choose both which clips they want to sue and they have some flexibility with what dialogue they want to sue.  In other words, they have ability to create almost any story line they want to, albeit they are restricted by what words they can use to fit with the mouths of the characters.

The genre of video dubbing has certainly evolved over the years, and I think that the future of the genre lies with Bad Lip Reading.  First and foremost, the genre began with dubbing videos for the sake of editing.  Someone somewhere, at this point not known to the world, began to use dubbing as a story telling technique, and created a genre that that I think is still in its early stages.  Some of the early videos focus on making fun of products through advertising or films that are generally “out there.” Video dubbing is genre that is still young, so no one is quite sure what exactly it is or what it can be quite yet.  Many of the early videos are vulgar and served no real purpose other than to be vulgar.  The vulgarity of the language is only considered funny because it is couple with video of an innocent topic, like the snuggie.  But, newcomers like BLR, are really pushing the boundaries of the genre.  BLR has given the genre some stability and some concreteness.

When done well, video dubbing is a strong instrument for criticism or commentary, and I think that this critical aspect offers the only real, concrete future for the genre.  Unless the genre finds some way to be seen as a medium for social commentary, I think it will die out like most fads do. The genre needs to become a way for people to express any feeling they may have about a film or product, but I do realize that the only way that a dubbed video works is if it humorous.  So, I think that dubbing can actually be useful in pointing out the often over-dramatic nature of certain genres of film, and the often over-dramatic persona of society in general.  It is important to laugh at ourselves every once in a while and realize that everything is not so serious.  Video dubbing offers society an opportunity to step back and take a real look at itself, and realize that there is humor to be found in most things.

Enter the Kitchen: An Internet Cooking Show Manifesto

The Internet Cooking Show

Cooking is one of things that will suck up as much time as you want to put into it. It ranges from putting a poptart in the toaster to the multi-day marathon that is beef wellington. I don’t think its a stretch to say that most of us typically are on the poptart end of this spectrum. But every now and then, when we just wake up full of motivation, when we finally have an evening free, when the moon is in the certain phase, we’ll go online and watch someone else work some culinary magic.

There are people out there who would have you believe that cooking videos simply teach one to cook. This could not be further from the truth.

Cooking videos do not teach you how to cook, they teach you how to love… to cook. Well… not so much love to cook, but love to watch other people cook food you will never get to eat. Based on my “research”, no one has ever actually attempted to cook any of the foods they have seen online. Why? Because if we had the motivation to go out and cook something, we wouldn’t be sitting on our butts watching a dog tell us how to make a bento box. The most popular cooking videos are the ones with the least actual cooking. I claim that the age of Julia Child and Emeril Lagasse is at an end. The future belongs to the comedians, to the drunks, to the impoverished, to the obese, to the anthropomorphic dogs that live within our computer screens and entertain us for a while. And as a citizen of this fantastic food future, I demand more.

I want more. More talking aniamls. More alcohol. More puns. More foods seemingly sprung from some sort of fever dream. I want more niche partioning. I don’t want more shows about french cooking, italian cooking, southern cooking. I want more shows about amusement park cooking, dormroom cooking, cooking with fire and fruit and flamingos. I want more STORIES. I more WHY and WHO and less HOW MUCH and WHAT TEMPERATURE. I want to relate, not to create. I want recipes with revelry, instruction with more production, baking with more breaking. I demand more explosions, more flubs and dubs, more drops and flops. I demand more burnt to a crisp failure and oh so greasy success.

Because, as the great Julia Child once said, with cooking you got to have a what the hell attitude.

Flash Mob Video Manifesto!

For flash mob video’s to remain an integral part of our online culture, changes MUST be made. This genre of web video has become a joke ever since its original creator, Bill decided to stop forming flash mobs in New York City. First off, the flash mob video has become either a huge advertisement for some large corporation and the message it wants to spread or something fun to do in school or to propose to your significant other. This is all well in good, but this is not why flash mobs were created, this I believe is the key to making flash mob videos mean something again and regain popularity, going back to their original purpose, to what Bill Wasik had originally intended.


1) A true flashmob cannot be created for commercial purposes, it must be used for social commentary, as they were originally intended.

2) A flash mob must contain a group of larger than ninety people in order for it to really even be considered a flash mob.

3) A flash mob must cause considerable confusion and chaos, so as to make the event even more spectacular.

4) These mobs must be as little planned as possible to make them seem even more organic.

5) Flash mob videos must include a clear beginning (in which the scene of the mob is set), a mob, and a clear end (sudden stop and crowd walk away leaving the bystanders shocked and confused)

Despite these principles and the fact that flash mobs should be used as social commentary, another fundamental idea around them that must be continued in order for the genre to succeed is jubilance and joy. Flash mobs need to be fun or they loose over half their appeal. So stop using a flashmob for your ad campaign and put a group together to have fun and comment on their society today!

The Comedic Vloggers’ Manifesto


 The video blog, or vlog, is an important avenue that is used by many to express their feelings, to share their knowledge, to advocate their worldviews, and to entertain their audience in a web-based medium.  The set of vloggers who seek primarily to entertain their audience are comedic vloggers.

Comedic vloggers are a raucous bunch of web-based comedians who speak their minds in a public forum.  They share hilarious rants about the world around them, give uncouth advice to their viewers on subjects that range from the serious to the seriously silly, and do all sorts of absurd activities to get a laugh.  Most take on online personas that are spins on their true identities, going by names like Jenna Marbles, Ze Frank, iJustine, and Nigahiga.  Their videos are informal, sometimes made with nothing more than a computer’s built-in camera, however some (especially those who are very popular) use professional equiptment and even have production teams with employees and interns.

The goals of comedic vloggers are to:

  1. make people laugh;
  2. garner a huge following;
  3. develop an online persona; and
  4. provide new material on a regular basis.

In order to attain these goals, comedic vloggers must have an initial fanbase to make their videos popular enough to be easily seen by the masses.  They must share a constant stream of fresh material to supplement their most popular all-time favorite videos, keeping viewer coming back for more on a regular and reliable basis.


  1. To speak as one’s own self, possibly using an embellished online persona.
  2. To avoid playing roles to frequently, engaging in skit-like behavior or creating excessive amounts of spoofs.
  3. To speak about modern trends with leading edge knowledge of the most up-to-date information.
  4. To push the limits of social acceptability and politcal correctness in an uncensored environment.

 Advancing the Manifesto of Comedic Vloggers

In order to preserve the genre and help it to grow, comedic vloggers need support from viewers.  Seek out the funniest vloggers you can find, and tell others about them with social media like Facebook and Twitter.

We invite potential comedic vloggers to create the best material possible in good faith that there is a large audience out there that wants to hear from them.  We encourage established comedic vloggers to continue to provide fresh material in innovative ways, and not to be afraid to push the envelope on social norms.  May the genre of the comedic vlog prosper and grow.



True Life: I’m addicted to educational vlogs

My high school teachers sucked.

Okay, they didn’t suck in the conventional use of the word: they weren’t those evil teachers you see in most high school-themed sitcoms who are always yelling or speaking in monotone. They just didn’t seem to know how to prepare us for tests. One day we would be eating M&M’s and watching a movie instead of having a lecture, and then before we knew it we’d be handed a college-level calculus exam covering all of the things we should have learned while we were slacking off.

So, it was up to us to find ways to learn things like anti-derivatives and graphing trigonometry. We all turned to different things, but the most effective way I found to learn the course material was through educational vlogs.

I started out watching the “khanacademy”, an older tutorial site run by a man with a passion for all things math and science. I nearly memorized all of his calc-related videos in preparation for my final, and I began to feel a strange sense of familiarity every time his voice started explaining the mathematical concepts that blew my mind.

My obsession with vlogs grew when I realized that I could find videos for every subject. I used them in all of my classes, cramming on YouTube until the day of the exam, and my grades improved as I spent more and more time watching movies online (ohhh, the irony of web videos actually increasing knowledge…)

My love for vlogs then led me to watch them outside of simple academic purposes. I found John and Hank Green’s Vlogbrother channel, and I started to watch every video for fun, along with most of ZeFrank and other popular vloggers. I stopped watching so much television and instead spent my time in front of the computer.

I can’t even begin to say how much information I’ve learned from the free time that I’ve spent on YouTube. These days, all good vlogs seem to come with a promise for laughter and an even greater promise for knowledge.

Because of the time I’ve spent watching these videos, I can sit here and tell you things like why the universe has no edge, how the Syrian revolution came to be, and how to write a moving essay on Holden Caulfield’s journey in The Catcher in the Rye. I grew in my understanding of almost every subject imaginable, and I even know a vast array of nerd jokes thanks to my devotion to my favorite vlogging channels.

But, these lessons are more than just random pieces of knowledge. My love for vlogs has led me to become a part of a community, one with inside jokes and funny tshirts and strange sayings: an intangible place where my thirst for knowledge is welcomed.

The Vlogbrothers call their followers “Nerdfighters”, and it is with pride and honor that I associate myself with the fandom of intellectuals that watch every Vlogbrother video the second it gets released. It’s made me smarter, funnier, and a lot more comfortable with being a total nerd.

Isn’t that what we want from the future generations?

Vlogs are the future of education. Popular vloggers tell a joke into their computer screen and people thousands of miles away laugh in response. Even better: vloggers tell an idea into their computer screen and the hundreds of thousands of viewers nod along and discover their own ways to improve the world.

The power of vlogs is rapidly growing, and I, for one, demand to be a part of it.


Whether it be candid cam or pro shot,

Whether it be the Rolling Stones or your Uncle Steve,

The live musical performance video serves to highlight the musician and celebrate the listener

The call and response of awe-inspiring talent, eccentricities, and stage charisma

With the sing along, scream of admiration from those listening

Makes the experience tangible for the viewer

The lens, an extension of the viewer’s eyes, is drawn towards the novel

A spectacle of superhuman talent or an oddity beyond comprehension

A guitarist playing with his teeth

A performance that moves, that brings its disciples to tears

The live musical performance video has captured the essence of the act

At least to the brink of technologies’ capabilities

Until Google brain chips can incorporate our smell, touch, and taste

The genre has seemingly reached an end in innovation

Although the experience may be limited to video and audio

As long as the performer remains a spectacle,

The musician’s work shall be presented with pomp

The fan shall be celebrated

And the music shall be performed