Pause button review: Starring Amanda Congdon
‘Starring Amanda Congdon‘ opens with the first lady of videoblogging struggling to flag down passers-by for some vox-pop on the subject of Time’s (You are the) Person of the Year issue. It is, perhaps, a wry nod towards the relative nature of Congdon’s star power, as she hops back and forth between the small pond where she sits atop the ‘net-telly totem pole, and the bigger picture (in, I’m guessing, the Big Apple) where she’s just another girl-reporter with a microphone. Albeit the girl-reporter ABC have franchise-level hopes for.
Amanda finally gets a few talking heads to ponder the possibility of being Person of the Year (a bald guy and a hairy guy happily co-existing – you can’t ask for much more than that). Then things take an odd left turn midway through a (somewhat sincere) interviewee’s discourse on YouTube and his touchy-feely feelings on personal communications. Amanda’s voice over informs us that perhaps it’s Time who took the left hand turn with their ‘You’ proclamation. That not everyone is part of this “you” that Time would like to define for us/you/erm, their readers.
It’s an interesting position to take, which is exactly what you’d hope for in the first episode of a high-profile new video show. But what, exactly does she mean by that? Those in the know will recognize some of the faces superimposed on the magazine cover. In as far as this is a media revolution, is Amanda saying that the credit belongs to the Politburo, not the people? Was the mention of YouTube just too much to take? Are the MySpace kids in? Or does their love of sparkly HTML over raw RSS disqualify them from being cover-stars for a magazine they’re not reading anyway?
Say it isn’t so, Amanda. And she did…
YouTubers, in my opinion, are independent media makers– so they fall into the “us” catagory. MySpace, as I believe Dave Winer once put it, is a blog on training wheels. I am not trying to say that they do not count. They do! They are part of all this as well!
I’m saying that many people are not in any way involved in internet culture. Those people are not at the forefront of this revolution, and therefore I don’t believe they should be “Person of the Year”… make sense?
Up to a point, yes. I’m glad to hear, from my “format agnostic” perspective, that Amanda’s not burning the un-Feedburned. At the same time, the cover in question (you know, shiny mirror, framed like a YouTube window, over a keyboard, and the legend ‘You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world.’) doesn’t say, “unless you’re still sitting on the couch ordering 30 piece hunting knife sets from QVC on the weekends”. Nor does it really have to. We’re being a little over-literal here if we’re really asking for more precise demographics in Time’s own front-cover elevator pitch.
Now Amanda is a smart cookie squared. The square peg glamour-geek set to shake up and reshape the mainstream media’s round holes. She knows, I’m sure, that Time are making a broad-strokes, media-friendly statement, even as they repackaging a shift towards personal media in a way designed to, well, sell more copies of Time. Is Time attempting to make high-profile sense of the shifting media landslide (like a landscape only shiftier) all that different to ABC News adding a video blog (on training wheels?) fronted by, well, Amanda Congdon?
I’m still feeling a little like Amanda’s having her cake and eatting it here. Time’s take, however lurchingly big media, was broad enough to cover mash-ups as well as micro-journalism. I can’t imagine that Amanda really did treck across america just to red- and blue-state the country into those who have and have not heard of blogs (and in the comments on her own blog, she says that that’s not her intent).
“We the people” will be watching to find out what happens next.