Youtube Vs. Big Corporations: The Creation and Consumption of Content

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The image quality isn’t the best, but the concept here is important.

In Tanner Mirrlees’ book Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism And Cultural Globalization he defines Cultural Imperialism (CI) and Cultural Globalization (CG).  Cultural Imperialism is essentially the idea that cultures that are less economically prominent rely on wealthy countries to produce their cultural media.  Cultural Globalization thus refers to the transmission of ideas and values across the world to extend social relations.  It’s actually kind of a messed up system because we (the United States) willingly exploit or at least take advantage of poorer countries, and this system lives off of that.  “Schiller (1969) noted that the US could sell a TV show to a UK broadcaster for $4,200 yet sell the same TV show to a Kenyan TV broadcaster for $22.” (Mirrlees, 27).  The concept Mirrlees goes on to discuss is that the US media corporations who control so much of the media are benefiting from this, and are finding every way possible to save a buck and return more money to their investors, as well as be able to distribute affordable content to the masses.  Furthermore, on page 26 Mirrlees says, “Third, the CI paradigm says that audio-visual trade between rich and poor countries is not reciprocal, and that the US is the central and most influential source of entertainment media worldwide.”

I found it fascinating that Mirrlees discusses entertainment as a commodity.  I think that’s a really good way to put it because I think the overwhelming amount of media being created gets taken for granted especially in the United States.  Essentially we don’t need media in order to survive, but we love it, and we are blessed with the ease of consuming it at our fingertips at all times for most people.  This book was published in 2013, and discusses big corporations and major Hollywood studios dominating the market of media consumption.  However with the big YouTube data explosion of 2014 I’ll argue that the paradigm is approached differently or at least affected by YouTube now in 2015.  72 hours of content are being created per MINUTE on YouTube.  (Source).

youtube-300-hours-uploadedYouTube was definitely discussed in Mirrlees’ book, however since YouTube really expanded in 2014 it has a way bigger impact than Mirrlees had predicted.  YouTube now has an impact on people who might not normally have been consumers with links being shared to other platforms of social media.  The first part of that statement is an idea that Mirrlees discussed on page 74 when discussing TV shows.  I think it’s more relevant to YouTube because we have the ability to be on Facebook and see that three or more people share the same video, as consumers we gain interest and thus watch the video.  Another concept that Mirrlees brings up is the re-consumption of media.  When he was discussing re-consuming media he was discussing the idea of purchasing a DVD and being able to have that tangible commodity, thus being able to enjoy it at any moment you desire.  While this is a good point, he uses iTunes as a similar form of this in terms of renting movies.  YouTube I argue is a better example of all of this.  YouTube videos do not disappear although there are circumstances where they do if they violate certain terms or if the content creator chooses to delete it.  However we have the ability to watch the same video(s) repeatedly at our leisure.

Bringing all of this back to CI & CG, I raise the question of whether or not it exists in the space of YouTube.  I argue no to an extent.  YouTube is sort of an equal playing field and if you have good consistent content being produced on your channel you have the ability to bring in huge crowds and even equate a certain amount of fame and fortune in many cases.  It does however go without saying that it is not entirely an equal playing field.  Technology is needed in order to create this content and we definitely have an advantage in the Western World for this technology.  This is not to say that there isn’t technology outside of the Western World, but it is definitely presented to us as more convenient.  We have the ability to create this content for billions of people every minute from our bedroom or house, which I believe breaks the CI & CG paradigm.  People are now creating media content for the benefit of their consumers (subscribers or unintended consumers)  and not to cut costs.  While there is a startup cost, once someone has a camera – which could even be a laptop camera – there aren’t any further costs, so YouTube-ers have the ability to simply create what they believe is good content.

Final Thought: The Internet is the ultimate judge, if you want to make it you have to be good enough.

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