CHAT ROULETTE AND JUSTIN BIEBER
What cultural change are you seeing around you right now?
By Barry Lord, May 21 2010
Last year, a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow invented Chatroulette, and is now in California negotiating where it goes from here. He invented a platform in which individuals with camcorders meet each other on line. Millions have already subscribed. It’s the source of a new verb – to “next” someone is to press next when you see their image them on-line, meaning that you are rejecting them- you want to pass on to the next person in the roulette of millions who await you. Of course major users are men scrolling for women who will show all to their camcorders, often while the men respond visually in front of theirs. But apparently there are lots of other users too.
Canadian youth, Justin Bieber, a huge singing sensation among tweens the world over, started his career when his mom posted video of him singing on You Tube. His popularity grew with each new post and he soon had a following of millions. An American music executive found him on-line accidentally, tracked him down, and these days Bieber is signed with Usher, producing hit after hit, and has attained international celebrity status.
These two examples put in question the Patron/Artist/Public triangle. Artists like Justin Bieber reach their public first and then patrons react after they see the public response. Similarly, chatroulette goes beyond the definition of pornography, because that definition always assume the patron/publisher/producer was producing porn for a passive audience – but if the women and men are connecting virtually and individually and responding to each other, that’s a whole different thing.
Altogether, it seems to me that we may be seeing an example of McLuhan’s Rear View Mirror effect – patronage in the traditional sense is showing up in the rear view mirror just as it is receding in its ability to control the contact between artist and the public. Of course patronage is still involved – Justin Bieber today has a huge retinue managing his affairs – but the patron is responsive to the public which responds before them, not the other way around.
So do we now have a situation where the public can directly respond over the internet to the work of art presented by the performing artist or the Russian entrepreneur in terms of their pathetic grandeur?? And the patron then catches up with reference to his or hers – or merely responds because they see that Justin Bieber is going big on You-Tube?
If the public is responding directly, in terms of its own pathetic grandeur, the way in which dominant groups (a ruling class) can control the values of the public will have to change. In the book we speak of the transition from Father Knows Best to Archie Bunker to the Simpsons and on to reality TV. Now what?
*Pathetic grandeur is a term coined by Russian filmmaker Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893-1953) when he remarked” After all, each social class seeks in its art the pathetic grandeur of its victory in its historic struggle” .
In the next 10 years in both Canada and the USA we’ll see more and ... Read more