Since Stephen Colbert took over The Late Show, we’ve been recording it on our DVR to watch in the morning. Unfortunately, that means that we missed most of Thursday’s show because of football, so I only caught part of his segment with PewDiePie on YouTube:
Age-wise, I’m firmly Generation X. I was born in 1970, which means I surfed into adulthood along with video games, personal computers, and the Internet. Gnarly to the max, like totally! When I was a kid, the family room was the only entertainment source on most evenings and I’d watch whatever my parents were watching, sometimes over the top edge of the book I was reading. The Captain and Tennille, Sonny and Cher, Starsky and Hutch, Bonanza, Battle of the Network Stars, Soap, All in the Family, Three’s Company, The Rockford Files, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dallas, Dynasty, and so on. Once I hit my teens — and cable TV didn’t get to my town until after I left for college — I had other things to do in the evening, but I’d stay up for Friday Night Videos and Saturday Night Live. My parents let me have their old black and white TV in my room so I could watch series that didn’t interest them (which is why I didn’t know Star Trek was shot in color until I got to college).
I’m still very much a television watcher, though almost all of it is time-shifted via DVR or VOD. In fact, except for news in the morning and Formula 1 races, I only watch live TV when the DVR is empty and I want background noise, like DIY shows on lazy weekend mornings. I like stories and I can appreciate good writing, costuming, and camerawork. Sometimes I just like a goofy comedy, too. My parents are certainly of a different generation of TV watchers; they don’t understand their DVR and still arrange their schedule around live programming, which I can’t imagine doing.
But now, I’ll go full geezer: I don’t love YouTube. Sure, I watch things there, including PewDiePie sometimes. He’s funny and charming. I like Rob and Corinne over at Threadbanger, catch up on Get Germanized now and then, and enjoy some short educational series. I’ll watch tutorials or put on playlists of music videos while gaming on my other monitor. But, the content of big YouTube stars isn’t relevant to me. I can see how it might appeal to teens and people in their early 20s, but watching those would be like my mom reading Tiger Beat in the ’80s. I also find it annoying to listen to appeals for subscribers, comments, Patreon support, and views on subchannels and affiliated channels. Combined with unskippable ads, that’s like the worst of both public and commercial TV channels, with less content between the ads. I think it’s fantastic that any creative, enterprising individual could build a following on YouTube, but the monetization model is grating to me.
Do you have a favorite YouTube channel that would change my mind? What should I check out? Prove me wrong!
In the meantime, I like being able to curl on the couch with my laptop and dog, watching scripted programs with decent production budgets on a large-screen TV. Sometimes we stream Netflix to the TV over our Chromecast, and I suppose we could stream YouTube shows too. Meh.