Tracing UGC Video's Ancestry to its real beginnings

TechDirt comments on a Slate article that traces YouTube‘s ancestry back to America’s Funniest Home Videos.  This provides me with a unique opportunity to be European culture snob that is just too good to pass up.

The point is well made that TV has only itself to blame for getting its public used to on the one hand user content like A’sFHM (1990) and on the other under-produced reality shows courtesy of the deal-making maestros at Endemol (Big Brother in 1997) or MTV’s The Real World back in 1992.  From a great way to improve margins ("hey, this stuff costs nothing to produce and gets great ratings") to destroying your business, the TV industry took a giant step forward towards Andy Warhol’s "fifteen minutes of fame" vision and created a monster (or a set of 180 monsters) that could have been called FameTV but was called YouTube and co.  (Or was it that everyone would be famous in 15 minutes ? I forget).

Anyway I would argue that UGC video harks back not only to Andy but also to the great tradition of film-making and the seminal widescreen experience of the Freres Lumiere.


"L’arrive du Train en gare de la Ciotat" was supposedly so impressive to onlookers that they would jump over the seats towards the exit to avoid the train’s impact

Indeed, take a look at the set of short-films that constituted the public release programme of the Lumiere Brothers (from Wikipedia):


  1. La Sortie de l’Usine Lumière à Lyon (literally, "the exit from the Lumière factories in Lyon", or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory), 46 seconds

  3. La Voltige ("horse trick riders"), 46 seconds

  5. La Pêche aux poissons rouges ("fishing for goldfish"), 42 seconds

  7. Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon ("the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon"), 48 seconds

  9. Les Forgerons ("blacksmiths"), 49 seconds

  11. Le Jardinier (l’Arroseur arrosé) ("the gardener, [the sprinkler sprinkled]"), 49 seconds

  13. Le Repas (de bébé) ("baby’s meal"), 41 seconds

  15. Le Saut à la couverture ("jumping onto the blanket"), 41 seconds

  17. La Place des Cordeliers à Lyon ("Cordeliers Square in Lyon"–a street scene), 44 seconds

  19. La Mer (Baignade en mer) ("the sea [bathing in the sea]"), 38 seconds

If that isn’t UGC… So there you have it, we are back to the future: YouTube, DailyMotion, vpod are all the great descendants of the illustrious Lumiere Brothers, and the next step in the great tradition of filmed entertainment.  On that note, let me get back to watching King Kong on my HD plasma.  [And thanks to pco for triggering this particular lightbulb in my head] 

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