One of the advantages of being a teenager’s mother (no, really, there ARE some advantages!) is early knowledge of trends. And it’s not just obsessive texting, video games, or mindless cat videos – my boys both introduced me to the wealth of actual, useful information one can find on YouTube. (Although there’s plenty of ridiculous filler – as one comedian observed, we could just combine the YouTube, Twitter and Facebook into one giant time-wasting site called “YouTwitFace”… but I digress.)
My tap-dancer son has shown me great archival footage of the legends he admires, and YouTube has introduced a whole new generation to the genius of Bill Robinson, Eleanor Powell, and the Nicholas Brothers. My younger son is a fan of cool science experiments as well as a group that does brilliant out-of-the-box music routines (including one in which a group of musicians created a piece by playing every part of the piano EXCEPT the keys). Because of YouTube’s enormous scale (6 billion — yes, billion — hours of videos are watched every month!) I can find a video for anything I might ever want to do, from making homemade brioche to installing sheet rock (neither of which I’m ever likely to do, but it’s still cool to know I COULD if I wanted to!).
Of course, that volume makes it hard to come up with an original concept — someone else has probably already filmed their dog playing with a rubber ducky, no matter how cute yours is. So when Harry Reid made headlines last week by arguing that the GOP was “Addicted to Koch” (the billionaire Koch brothers), I figured someone would turn his memorable line into the obvious song. And while a doctored photo did pop up with a bunch of leggy models and Reid’s head superimposed over Robert Palmer’s, the song itself had yet to turn up on YouTube.
Not only was Reid’s comment a great reference to an incredibly popular song with an iconic video, but I played in a rock band during the ’80s which actually covered a couple of Robert Palmer tunes, so I knew the song in question. And on YouTube I found: a) the original video, b) hundreds of tutorials on how the makeup artist created that look, c) thousands of bad karaoke versions, and d) a couple of exposés on how a musician was hired to teach the models to mime playing their instruments, but they were so hopeless that he gave up after an hour, which explains why none of them seemed to be playing — or dancing — to the same beat.
And to top it all off, when my son saw me dressed & made-up for the video, he knew exactly what I was parodying.