YouTube as feedback.

There is not an original thought in what follows.

I often joke that YouTube is the real Pirate Bay, that only its size and Google’s stature keep it open for business. But it could be that what keeps it open — thriving — is its lawlessness. It’s the release valve for a system that has become stressed to the breaking point; namely, copyright.

We just finished watching the celebrated 70 minute critique of George Lucas’ The Phantom Menace. Apart from a few stupid, despicable moments, it’s brilliant and generous — and it would not have been as stinging or poignant a rebuke without YouTube.

¿What is the most effective response to a work intended for a mass audience if not one that is also intended for a mass audience? The sentence “George Lucas betrayed his younger self when he made a movie that undermines every achievement of his earlier films.” is provocative but it’s not as persuasive as a movie that expresses the same sentiment; a movie made almost entirely with scenes from Lucas’ early and later movies.

Not unlike the coevolution of modern democracy and the printing press, modern culture requires the mass adoption of filmmaking tools and techniques. (If the thesis is a movie, the anti-thesis must also be a movie.)

What made YouTube possible wasn’t just camcorders, broadband, computers with video capture cards or the adoption of a video codec. It wasn’t even the democratic culture of the web. It was nearly a century of moviemaking and several generations of moviegoers.

At its best, YouTube is not a rejection of commercial entertainment, it’s a response. It’s feedback.