The humorless democratization of entertainment and politically correct jerk-off festival that the internet has become is really bumming me out. Last week the contentious comedy troupe, Million Dollar Extreme, was banned from YouTube. The channel initially went down on July 16th and has since been officially terminated by the website under allegations of copyright infringement or breaching the community guidelines of decency. This effectively removes hundreds of the group’s videos from online existence. These ranged from scripted and edited pieces of thoughtful irreverent comedy to an impromptu clip of Sam Hyde singing to his mother about how cool she is as she begs him to stop. Nick Rochefort’s prank calls to Craigslist prostitutes and Charles Carroll’s depiction of a homeless Satan are equally and troublingly missing. Going to these videos now yields the text “this video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.”
The only videos that have survived are fan tributes and exceptionally popular content, like their Williamsburg Street Fashion Interviews and Sam Hyde’s hijacking of a TEDx event. MDE is infamous for this type of comedy terrorism and seems to take special joy making fun of groups that most people would deem off limits, taking more of a scorched earth approach to humor. Nothing and nobody can be considered sacred. They also rarely offer a comforting wink to the audience when satirical elements get uncomfortable or a character says something particularly monstrous. It doesn’t feel safe and, in a world of politically correct labels and trigger warnings, people really like to feel safe. When asked about what Million Dollar Extreme’s response might be to the YouTube ban Hyde said, “I’m planning something big, loud, and ‘legal’ outside the YouTube headquarters. Let’s just say I’m gonna be on national television.”
The democratization of online entertainment that YouTube is so fond of may have helped promote untalented trash and clips of people falling down, but it hasn’t done quite so much for creative innovators pushing the boundaries of normalcy. Last winter, sensitive objectors with no sense of humor rallied together to flag MDE’s content to a point where YouTube placed them under review before allowing them to continue posting again. It is widely believed by the group’s fans that this has happened again with people specifically flagging for the potential use of hateful and offensive language. YouTube’s Community Guidelines state quite clearly that hate speech is defined by any language “which attacks or demeans a group based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, and sexual orientation/gender identity.” It also explains that the website is not a place to host shocking or disgusting material and does not want people posting videos of people being hurt or humiliated.
Meanwhile, here are some videos that are still available on YouTube:
Things White People Don’t Understand
Man Throws Up & Pukes & Barfs On Toilet Pooping
The main reason I no longer bother with youtube… :(
What the hell happened to YouTube? Good luck to MDE I say. I hope they kick up a real stink!
We’ve always had a choice on the web. The question is to go with either convenience (Free hosting, exposure, easy distribution, etc) or absolute freedom (paying for the hosting yourself).
Instead of YouTube, use Dailymotion, Vimeo, (or any other smaller site with limited or no restrictions). Yet, much like those who complain about Facebook (but won’t, or don’t convert to the alternatives: Google +, etc), we go with the distribution method that has the largest audience. For video, it’s YouTube! For words, it’s WordPress! &c.
And then, when the free service, hosting petabytes of data (for free) decides to take something down, we feel annoyed and/or violated. The annoyance can come in this form (Million Dollar Extreme) or another (ex: AustinBrock’s YouTube channel-woes). However, by willingly hosting our collective content on free services, we’re opening ourselves up to censorship.
YouTube isn’t free speech, YouTube is a service that drives Google’s advertising revenue. The question we should be asking is why we as a culture are so willing to give away our ideas for another company’s ad revenue.
Because it’s the only game in town and people want to reach other people. I understand what you are saying but going with the popular sites is your best chance to reach an audience. Also remember that things like YouTube and Facebook used to come without aggressive advertising and heavy censorship.
I pay to keep my website free of advertisements and have my domains at the ready in case I need to fall back and host everything myself. As did MDE. But your argument that we open ourselves up for censorship is sort of obnoxious. YouTube exists because of other people’s content and because people watch it. We don’t petition the removal of egregious advertising or idiotic content but people are routinely calling for the removal of things that are “offensive.”
And MDE has swapped over to DailyMotion but we both know they have likely lost current and future viewers because of the move. The point of all of this isn’t about artists making money, it’s about having control and reaching people.
But your argument that we open ourselves up for censorship is sort of obnoxious.
We’re not intentional in our self-censorship. Censorship that is mostly harmless, but censorship that is inherent in using the (currently available) web. It’s unfortunate, completely unfortunate. I doubt most people log online and realize that every service they’re using is driven by advertising revenue, and eventual corporate takeovers, and IPO worth, and big data companies selling newer, sophisticated analytics.1 The web, unfortunately, is no longer “free.”2 Each person is worth a dollar sign3.
From my first comment – However, by willingly hosting our collective content on free services, we’re opening ourselves up to censorship. – I mean no harm. “We” is everyone. “We” is everyone, including myself. We allow ourselves to continue because we have to, to function online. Where would modern society be if everyone stopped using Yahoo4, Google5, Apple6, Facebook7 or Microsoft8 today? The same could be said about the numerous monopolies controlling web access – Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon, et. al
I don’t think most people, either, think about this stuff. Either on purpose, to ignore the ugly truth, or because they’re oblivious and the lack of a free web doesn’t affect them.
Behind all of these faceless companies are human beings. I believe these services genuinely want to make our lives better, or more enjoyable, and that’s why the web remains free of (banal) censorship. You can be racist on Twitter, or post insane bullshit on Facebook, and you’ll only ruffle a few feathers. Overall, you can do what you want online, which is why people tend to think of it as “free.” But the “free web” is still in the hands of a limited number of companies calling the shots. It’s parasitic – they need you to function, and most people need them.
To return to the original point of you bringing this up: whatever MDE did to piss off Google/YouTube must have been big. Or, they must have pissed off someone directly who has the power to remove videos.
1. My own personal decision to post fake, miscellaneous locations on every Facebook post.
2. I wish the web was still in the 90s, in that regard.
A. How you define “free,” of course, is a conversation in itself.
B. The truly “free” wild west of the web, of course, is the “Dark web”: onion, or the TOR network, which by even mentioning, seems to move you higher up the terror-watch list.
4. Tumblr, Flickr, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Yahoo-owned_sites_and_services
5. YouTube, Android, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_products
7. Instagram, WhatsApp, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acquisitions_by_Facebook
8. Xbox, Windows, etc http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Hardware
Did you ever thing that maybe your YouTube hate here is secretly latent love. Very thin line between the two emotions. I think you have a crush on YouTube, actually.
Don’t become a psychologist.