Stuck in the web: the year online
Contemporary music videos from the cool kids are still obsessed with trashy 1990s imagery, videos for the Tumblr generation, placing value in cheap montages that feel more Trapper Keeper than real keepers.
I have a meme
Recuts, swedes, trailers remade with Lego and the endless library of video snowclones show no signs of abating, from Homeland skits to reimagining music videos. With luck, next year we can finally put the seemingly never-ending Gangnam Style and Call Me Maybe parodies to rest, but new ones will take their places. And, somewhere out there, people are still insistent on making more Downfall parody videos.
If the meme is a replacement for the punchline (what did we laugh at before?), then parody accounts on Twitter are the long-form joke.
At home the most successful of these was Colm O’Regan’s Irish Mammies, which went from a Twitter account to a website and, finally, a book.
The humour around such ventures is hit and miss, but there’s a jaded predictability to the insistence of laughing at and then spreading increasingly tired gags. Putting the “ah here, leave it out” Dublin holler over footage of an aircraft flying into the Twin Towers just isn’t funny. Neither is a guy looking into the camera on The Late Late Show. Or the laziness of Lolcat text over endless photographs of strange celebrity expressions.
Some gif-based Tumblrs – the scrapbook for a generation – actually yielded some laughs, in particular Dublin Gays and Hungover Owls. But there’s still the nagging sense that trawling through photographs of people who look like things is a colossal waste of time.
If there’s one art form that has been completely rewritten online, it’s photography. This year Instagram continued to catalogue what we were eating, sunsets, pouting self-portraits, pets, holidays, nights out, architecture and everything else in between, not to mention the popularity of celebrities on the social network.
Photography websites have become democratised, with individual amateurs all capable of now snapping something and overlaying a fancy – and reality-distorting – filter, creating something that would have previously taken hours to create in a darkroom or in Photoshop. But will Instagram’s dominance continue? More about that later.
The slow growth of web-only programmes
Although web-only TV content has been promising to move into the mainstream for years, the quality of web-based shows suggests self-obsessed and self-indulgent diary-based reality television, annoying reaction videos and low production values. But all that’s changing. Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy broke the mould in previous years, and this year it got an Emmy nomination.
But probably the most interesting success of 2012 was The Outs, a web series about gay life in New York that developed both an audience and critical acclaim. This transmedia approach to how film and television is made will continue to develop.
Meanwhile, Vice’s online channel, VBS, continues to punch above everyone’s weight, especially when it comes to captivating documentaries.
Yeah, I watched that on my laptop
Film services such as Netflix and iTunes have taken a small bite out of illegal downloading and streaming, but the most significant Irish input this year was the launch of Volta, a streaming service that allows its customers to watch a bunch of Irish-made flicks.