Thursday, October 12, 2006

YouTube and Little Loca in The New Yorker

Never one to be slow to the punch, The New Yorker has hopped on the YouTube bandwagon. In its current October 16, 2006 issue, Ben McGrath takes an interesting look at the YouTube Universe and features Little Loca, AKA actress Stevie Ryan. Eat your heart out LisaNova!

Thanks to my YouTube addiction, I already knew this article was coming because Loca (Stevie Ryan's most well-known YouTube character) posted a video on YouTube with some stills from the article before it was released. The New Yorker got pissed and Stevie had to remove the video and repost without the stills.

It is strange hearing Little Loca, a Latina character created by Stevie Ryan, discussing an article in which we see a behind the scenes look at Ryan dressing up to film herself as her most popular character, Little Loca. Keep in mind that, like LonelyGirl15, Little Loca has never "come out of the closet" as a "character." Most people who watch Loca's videos know that she is played by a white actress named Stevie Ryan (although as with most actors and their biggest roles, the lines are sometimes blurred btw reality and story) but Loca does not seem aware of this fact yet.

It seems cruel and unnecessary to remind Dorothy that she is being played by an actress named Judy Garland. Just let the magic and the mystery keep the story alive a little bit longer please. We don't always want to see what is behind the Great Oz's curtains, do we? Are you confused? I know I am. Does this mean YouTube's gone Meta?

Even more fun is Ryan's hatred of LisaNova's popularity (they are sort of the ying and the yang of YouTube - Ryan is old movie glam while Nova is organic and real) and FilthyWhore (who doesn't hate that rapidly expanding, white trash, whiney mushball?), paranoia that YouTube is purposefully lowering her hits and viciously not featuring her (which is, according to her new BFF Crispin Glover, an anti-Latina, capitalist plot), and her critique of LonelyGirl15's lame wooden acting technique (well, duh!). But in a star-crazed kingdom like Hollywood, YouTube fame counts for shit:

"Along with the arrival of a Google track record had come some anxieties about her [Stevie Ryan's] place in the Hollywood pecking order, where, the revolution not withstanding, YouTube still doesn't count for much. She'd been embarrassed at a recent party when she wondered whether other guests were being patronizing about her Little Loca pursuits." Ben McGrath, The New Yorker

Ryan is a spitfire and her ingenuity and passion are what make her videos careen heads and tails above the rest. It will be interesting to see how the future careers of Ryan, Nova and Bree fare (let's face it, FilthyWhore has no Hollywood career potential unless Anna Nicole gives up her spot on the podium). Basically, they are all after a piece of the same delectable Hollywood pie, but who knows which hit sitcom or Lifetime movie of the week they will end up in. I, for one, am eager to see how this little YouTube "famathon" plays out.

Meanwhile, the appearance of Crispin Glover in one of Loca's latest videos (watch video here) and the New Yorker piece was mildly entertaining. Talk about one of my favorite YouTube vids, one of the best ones out there is Crispin freaking Dave Letterman out with his poorly aimed karate chop kick to the head (see video here). Man, you gotta love that moment and you gotta love YouTube for making it available. Please GoogTube, don't take this gem away from us!

One of my favorite moments of Sundance 2005 was Crispin Glover and Werner Herzog being interviewed together on the local Park City TV channel (I wonder if this clip is on YouTube??). They sat awkwardly side by side with Werner's thick German accent acting as a perfect compliment to Crispin's nervous tic persona. They were huge fans of each other and it was one weird-ass love fest. To put it in YouTube Terms, those two are like the LisaNova (Herzog) and Little Loca (Glover) of the indie film world.

One of my least favorite moments of Sundance 2005 was watching Glover's god-awful film, What Is It? which Loca advertises at the end of her Glover video. I made the mistake of taking a screener copy home to watch with my punk rock Mormon roommates. Obviously a recipe for disaster. Not only did the brainwashers hate it but I found it painfully ridiculous and not in a good way. Snails died for this self-important piece of poop?

What Is It? I will tell you what the hell it is. It is retards having sex in a cemetery, a bunch of naked retards in an over-sized vagina, Crispin prancing about in a large fur coat playing a character called "Dueling Demi-God Auteur" and many poor snails being salted to death. I know, this description is probably making you want to see it! Argh! And I know, I shouldn't call people retards but MAN, this movie is BAD! But perhaps that was Glover's intention, he is just crazy enough to make that his goal. Job well done McFly.

Anywho, the teaming of Ryan and Glover seems a perfect one. They are both in love with themselves and have an outdated Hollywood oddness that would seem more at home in the 40s. I can see the potential for a high hit count if they continue making vids together.

And even more funny is the subject heading of Glover's initial ice breaker email to Ryan's My Space account which read: "Genuine Crispin Glover writes to Stevie Ryan." Now come on, that is just silly. I wonder what proof he used to show that he was the Genuine Crispin Glover? An email full of rambling expletives? A photo of himself naked on a bear skin rug? No, no, a picture of whales mating with peanut butter?!

Other memorable parts of the article are reading how Stevie makes a video (she holds the camera at arms length!?). It is also humanizing to see that, like many of us, she is obsessed with her Google mentions and YouTube rankings. She admits to being obsessed with YouTube and spending most of her time on it which makes me feel a little better because there seems to be no way a mere mortal could post as much as she does (she has 4 user accounts that I know of).

"Within a few weeks, YouTube became a full-time pursuit for Ryan 'It's basically all I do,' she told me." Ben McGrath, The New Yorker

It's also interesting that her initial YouTube meanderings were art films that got no hits until she figured out that the bedroom blogging divas like FilthyWhore were the way to go for hits, thus came the birth of Little Loca:

"She experimented with uploading a few [vintage-style silent] films to YouTube, only to discover the site's ruthlessly populist ethos: what people seemed to like was not pretentious art films with obvious Hollywood aspirations but the confessional blogs of young girls in their bedrooms. Little Loca - a composite of tough-talking, strong-willed cholas Ryan used to admire in Victorville - was born." Ben McGrath, The New Yorker

The writer also visits the YouTube offices where things move a mile a second and the decisions made are big ones. It turns out that geriatric1927 was "discovered" thanks to the random attentions of a YouTube staffer who noticed his video and bothered to feature it. The rest, as the kids say, is YouTubeistory. Geriatric1927 became an instant YouTube star and one of its oldest users to boot. Thus proving that YouTube has some more uses up its copious sleeves than butt jiggling vids, teenage angst, cats pooping on toilets (thanks Conan) and what happens when you combine Mentos with Coke.

"…the story of YouTube, since its launch, ten months ago, has been one of exponential growth, at times challenging the company's abilities to cope with the demands of its servers. (Bandwidth costs are thought to exceed a million dollars a month.) Last week, according to Alexa, a Web--trafficking monitor, it was the tenth-biggest site on the Internet, drawing more visits than eBay, Amazon, or Wikipedia. By late summer, there were approximately six million videos archived on the site, and daily viewings had crossed the hundred-million mark, a great many of them not devoted to original content, such as Peter's or Stevie Ryan's, but to pre-existing footage in a variety of genre's…" Ben McGrath, The New Yorker

Jesus, it blows my mind to think that YouTube is not even 1 year old yet. If YouTube was a toddler, he/she would not even be out of diapers!? Screw the cat pooping on the toilet, let's potty train YouTube! This company was started in February of 2005. Man, things move pretty fast on the Internet horizon these days. I wonder what this little baby's Terrible Twos will bring?

With YouTube's recent merger with Google, it remains to be seen what direction the garage-born, almost 1-year old media monster will take. Will it continue to fill up with advertising and users like Diddy, Paris and NBC until no one "real" is left? Will it take out all the super cool, ancient, rare copyright-infringing footage that makes it so great? Or will it find some way to bridge the gap between an eclectic, populist-driven fledgling entity and a moneymaking, law-abiding profit machine?

This all remains to be seen and I, for one, will be tuning in to the GoogTube to check out what happens when Little Loca and crew prance off down the yellow brick road…

And now here is a fellow YouTuber named Emily, a girl who works at The New Yorker doing the calendar layout and her take on this article. She says the writer, Ben, is a nice guy. Don't you just love YouTube? Emily jokes that they should have interviewed her for the article because she is a YouTuber and then she says, "Well, I'm not a celebrity...yet..." And that is the glory of YouTube, tomorrow, or maybe the next day, Emily The New Yorker calendar designer could wake up the next YouTube star!


emilybot said...

Speaking of Herzog and YouTube...check out some of the Klaus Kinski ones. Oh. My. God. I'm not sure if he's a genius or just straight-up insane yet.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

i am going with straight up coo coo but only in the best way. have you seen My Best Fiend? yipes! ;)

emilybot said...

Yeah, I saw it! Oh. My. GOD.
The part in which Herzog was talking about killing That was intense.