Dubsmash, Selfie, YouTube and the grimaces of Barack Obama on BuzzFeed

obamacare_buzzfeedEveryday a billion of people watches on YouTube approximately three hundred million videos. Are you surprised? Let us suppose you are not because YouTube is a well-known environment and frequently used by all of us: if I have to see a video I go on YouTube, if I have to share a video I put it on YouTube, all the videos of the world are on YouTube! Have you made a video? Have you seen the last video of “that guy” on YouTube?
Yet YouTube is a pretty recent phenomenon, to be more precise the greatest multimedia repository in the history of the humanity has its origin on 23 April 2005, the day when the first video has been posted, therefore it celebrated its 10th anniversary. We may say it is still a child.
In ten years our relation with videos and photos, multimedia material in general, has completely changed, every event is followed live by thousand of mini video cameras placed on our smartphones and shared online and, if it is considered interesting, it is posted on YouTube. The personal sphere has also suffered this multimedia contamination, every event of our life, of that of our relatives, children and friends, is recorded and, often instantly, shared.
In less than one decade our way of communicating, sharing and preserving has completely changed; we have decided to expose ourselves publicly! The widespread phenomenon called Selfie has taken this direction; we have chosen to dedicate an article along with the excessive use of the emoticons, smilies which allow us to express our emotions in a fast and instinctive way.
Many other examples become evidences in support of our vision of the “show-off man” (or woman or teen-ager,…), ready to expose oneself, self-absorbed, eager to reach one’s own personal popularity online. We quote two of them pretty recent:
The president Barack Obama has recently made a video to solicit the public opinion, especially the youngest one, regarding his extremely important health care reform. The video, spread through the Social Platform “BuzzFeed“, posted many times on YouTube (click here to see Obama’s video), does not propose the president in a suit sitting at his desk, flags by his side, intent in reading an institutional statement. On the contrary, he is in front of the mirror, supposedly bright and early, parroting himself, making funny faces, rehearsing his speech, making some grimaces, having an unlikely breakfast and shooting some imaginary and originally hoops.
This is an extremely “selfie” vision of the president, egocentric and modern where the mirror becomes the instrument which reflects the image of the president toward (and in line with) the virtual world.
The video lasts two minutes and it founds itself on fruition and expositive rules typical of the web ones and not on those institutional such as broadcasting or television. An approach on the surface breezy and superficial, but in fact, based on a careful marketing analysis of the audience, the young Americans, which is intended to be obtained by sharing the new healthcare reform (informally called Obamacare, formally called HealthCare).
“Our” teen-agers are on YouTube, making videos, sharing them, watching them, making comments, voting them…they are in continuous transparent and viral, interaction with the multimedia material made by them, therefore with themselves.
Being digital natives, being used to these tools, they don’t see an alternative; they live their community without having any prejudice towards the media exposure of themselves. Not even the choice of BuzzFeed is casual: it is about a generic base, far from an institutional one, but with a great ability of diffusion and support of the mass, of the internet users.
The APP Dubsmash allows to lip-synch starting from a well-known base, deliberately chosen, a sort of “singing ventriloquism“. At first glance, if we go on Youtube and watch some videos, we are inclined to think it is about the usual “village idiot” who wants to make fun of himself, but it is not what it looks like. The phenomenon is global, we find videos practically from every nation, not only about young people and youngest ones. The Dubsmashes are the evolution of the Selfies, they are the continuation of the playful phenomenon inserted online by the Pharrell Williams song, “Happy” which has created thousand of clone videos with euphoric dancers. This is the demonstration that YouTube is becoming the storage of our ego and the smartphones the tool to produce (and to expose) our personal, emotional and visual heritage.
There is a real world, where form and content follow precise rules, where the announcement and the publication are reserved to very few, where the contradictory opinion is often absent, but at the same time, there is the web where each of us, even the youngest (especially the youngest) can expose a significant part of themselves through a direct language, grotesque, ironic. Such exposure is often a multimedia type created by means of homemade images or videos.
The jester is getting more attention online comparing to that of the king’s herald, despite the institutional trumpet blasts which accompany him, maybe because of his ability to make fun of himself and to communicate in a “natural language”, accessible to everyone without any hesitation or superfluity.
This change toward multimedia, so obvious for the youngest and so inexplicable for many others, involves even the most powerful man on the planet, the president Barack Obama (or his marketing office, it doesn’t matter a bit).
In one decade, the rules of the game have completely changed! It is necessary to communicate directly and in a multimedia way, even through a simple video. Words alone are not enough anymore! To be honest, if the words come along without a little tune or a funny face or an “I like”, many of us don’t even bother to listen to them anymore.



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