the great debate

checking in with Talk the Talk

Some time in 2002 or 2003, I acquired a Digital8 camcorder. I also got a FireWire card for my computer and a copy of some Windows-based editing software called, I think, Pinnacle Studio, which was a step up from Windows Movie Maker. I made the absolute worst videos using these tools. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I’d just record stuff, and use the zoom too much, and then import it all to my Dell Inspiron (Digital8, despite its name, was still analog, which meant I had to play the footage into the FireWire card in real time) and then I’d chop that footage up and slap music over the whole proceeding. The song was almost always taken from the Rocky soundtrack, which I was obsessed with during that time when I was roughly 12 years old, or it was The Beatles.

I didn’t know what I was doing. I really cannot stress how much these videos suck, and I’m so glad I went through this phase before I knew about YouTube. I managed to get in just under the wire and I’m very thankful. I would instead burn these videos to DVDs and those DVDs currently, I’m pretty sure, sit in a shoebox under the desk in my childhood bedroom. They are there only because I can’t bring myself to destroy them and I don’t know how to get the discs into one of those nuclear waste bunkers that needs to remained sealed for thousands of years.

We live in an unprecedented age of kids making amateur videos and uploading them to YouTube. Unlike TikTok, which makes video creation a paint-by-numbers affairs (here’s the sound you should use, here’s the video filter, here’s the predetermined editing technique), YouTube videos often have a scrappier feel, in part because it doesn’t offer creation tools. Sure, there’s formal convention on YouTube, but there’s no hand-holding — it’s up to the video maker to figure out how to adhere to that convention.

Anyway, here’s a funny image:

The image is taken from a January 2019 video, uploaded by Junior Studios, covering exactly what you think it’s gonna be about. Three boys take part in a “Talk the Talk” segement (a mainstay feature of the channel) discussing whether or not Fortnite is overrated. They also discuss whether Alfonso Ribeiro owns the Carlton dance. The video has 161 views in the video, but currently has 1.1 million — far more than any other on the channel — because that screenshot became a meme thanks to observations like this one.

Or this one:

It’s admittedly a funny screenshot! It really tells a story. The fashion choices; the Wes Anderson-like center framing; the body language of all three boys hunched forward, ready to engage with the issues of the day; the framed caricatures in the top-right. It appears, in freeze-frame, to be a deathly serious debate about the least important topic someone else might imagine.

I’d never actually watched the video before this evening, and it’s roughly what I expected, roughly four minutes of unbroken footage from an unmoving camera, of three boys awkwardly talking about Fortnite. The boy in the middle is playing moderator, though I’m not quite clear who is on which side. I guess it’s more of a discussion than a debate

What I did appreciate discovering, however, was that Junior Studios has continued to produce. None of the videos have gone viral, and they all have just a few thousand views, but the operation has not ceased.

Have I watched all of these videos? No. Am I going to? Almost certainly not. But I really do like knowing that they exist, and that Josh (that’s name of the guy who hosts discussions and posts the videos) has not been scared off of making videos because a completely context-less screenshot of one of them went viral and people made light fun of it.

A few months ago, the video hit 1 million views and he posted a “thank you” video which also showed off his quarantine hair.

The video’s description:

We have finally did it everyone, we have hit 1 MILLION VIEWS on the video “Is Fortnite Actually Overrated” it’s been a wild ride we’ve been in pewdiepie’s videos TWICE, countless meme pages from reddit to YouTube to Instagram to Twitter to tumblr and even Facebook! And we’ve made other actually overrated videos. I just wanted to thank you all and I hope you all keep watching for years to come

That’s just nice. Making amateur videos with your friends is very fun and it kinda terrifies me that the process plays out in public now, on social channels with powerful distribution systems. There are countless channels like this one, and any one of them can get the wrong kind of attention for no discernible reason other than the algorithmic recommendation deciding so. I’m glad that Junior Studios is still going strong.


Elsewhere…

Folks, it’s the end of April, and next month we’ve got some fun guest contributions lined up. That’ll be great for you, because the pieces are good, and great for me, because quite frankly I am all out of ideas and don’t want to write. I hope you enjoy the change of pace.


Thank you for reading BNet. I’ve decided Fortnite is overrated.