Sure, When Britney Shaves Her Head, It’s News. But When I Do It…

  • Share
  • Read Later

I just had to say that, and now I’ve said it, and we can all move on.

Barenaked Ladies have released a video featuring a pretty impressive all-star cast of YouTube celebrities. Brookers and Geriatric1927, together at last! (Am I the last person on the Net to find out that Geriatric1927’s real name is Peter Oakley? When did that come out? I thought his real identity was a closely-guarded secret.) (And what the %$#%$, why are YouTube user pages slowly turning into MySpace pages, which look to my 37-year-old eyes like the worst of the dancing-frog, seizure-inducing background pages of the Web circa 1996?)

I always find moves like this interestingly risky. Big-name media players have trouble coming across as genuine when they get involved with grass-roots geek media like YouTube. They get perceived as exploitative, as trying to hijack a free, spontaneous phenomenon for personal gain. Quite often this perception is correct. Look at Diddy, who’s took the campaign for his last album to YouTube, where he is now a running gag.

And then there’s a deeper layer to it: geeks have spent so much of their lives getting spat on, when the mainstream turns around and tries to embrace them, they/we don’t always want to be embraced. Again, for damn good reason. As somebody who writes about this stuff for a huge corporate behemoth, I run into these issues all the time. I have not solved them. At least now I know that the commenters who heap contempt on me are merely the victims of a design flaw in their orbitofrontal cortex. I pity them.

However, for some reason I don’t mind this stuff coming from the BNL, who I realized about a year ago, way way after the fact, are not in fact a one-hit novelty band. Check out the plangent “Call and Answer,” for example — a great song about trying to save a relationship poisoned by bitterness. I would happily swap the entire works of Raymond Carver for “Call and Answer.”

And you gotta give them some geek cred for releasing an album on a flash drive.