Michael Hirschorn in The Atlantic–YouTube Rules


Michael Hirschorn, a suit at VH1, is now the Content columnist at The Atantic. This month, he sings the praises of YouTube, while damning professional television as stodgy, slow and hopelessly last century. What he really means is expensive.
As network and pay cable productions increasingly use cinematic techniques (CSI, Lost, etc.) with varying degrees of success, basic cable struggles to keep the ADD audience entertained while cutting production budgets to the bone. YouTube is competition and savior at the same time.

Hirschorn, whose work includes Celebrity Fit Club and The World Series of Pop Culture, must have written the piece before LonelyGirl15 was exposed (he stuck in an awkward sentance about conspiracy theorists being proved right) as he loves, loves, loves the idea that people would watch something made by a real teen-aged girl with a cheap camera. He rhapsodizes that:

The grittiness, lack of polish and occasionally shocking intimacy constitue a new aesthetic of realness, much as the scratchiness, feedback, and ostenatious amatuerishness of the Sex Pistols made everything else seem like mere affectation.

FBLA knew the Sex Pistols and LG15 is no Sex Pistol. VH1 views the Sex Pistols as #12 of Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Hirschorn wants to find compelling content at discount rates–does he really think that the crew behind LG15 plans to work for $1500 a week? Not with CAA behind them.

Hirschorn goes on in the column about Britney Spears, Ricky Gervais and My Name is Earl, but his real point is that the future of cable TV is ever cheaper programming, ever cheesier content, under the guise of edgy and genre breaking. Think about it–who needs VH1 if they offer the same stuff available on YouTube? The joy for a filmmaker is that YouTube doesn’t have production execs. Hirschorn might remember that.