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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 11, 2010

YouTube goes from cool to cliched tool

By Lee Cataluna

When grandmas started saying "talk to da hand" and "bling bling," you knew those terms had slipped off the precipice of cool and tumbled into the dark wasteland of common usage.

Similarly, I'm worried about YouTube. When it first came into consciousness, it was a hotbed of high school fight videos and vicious verbal exchanges. Rival schools would call each other out. Fast-talking punks with video phones would post taunts and challenges, sometimes to no one in particular. Kids would spit out razor-sharp rhymes in videos that were mesmerizing and edgy.

That was, what, five or six years ago? Now, state legislators are posting their stuff on YouTube. It's like when mom talks about junk in her trunk. It makes you want to run screaming to the next new, unspoiled thing.

Last week's beef over Sen. Fred Hemmings' bill establishing surf reserves is a prime example. The bill got as far as the closing day of the Legislature before House Speaker Calvin Say took out his procedural pistol and shot it square between the eyes.

Hemmings had long lamented that Republican legislators can't get any bill they introduce passed in the Democratic-controlled Legislature, but it's one thing to say it, it's another to click on the video and watch it happen. (And then play back the juicy parts where Gene Ward dares Say to call him out of order, and Say goes, "You're out of order." Boom Boom Pow.) It's not as provocative as a parking lot brawl, in fact, it's slow to unfold, but it will certainly stir up partisan rivalry.

And that's just how it's being used. The video clip and others like it are passed around to get people riled up. See what they did? See what they tried to do? Beef!

You can also find on YouTube any number of sideshows from the state Legislature, from opening day noodles to all manner of colorful protests and loud demonstrations.

There's Random Stuff From The Floor, Like Several Clips Of Rep. Tom Brower Doing Kind Of A Slam-poetry Rapping Thing, Which Is Tough To Watch All The Way Through, But Don't
tell him, because clearly he thinks he's dorky-hot.

YouTube is cool for capturing those moments of democracy-in-action that you could only see by hanging out at the Capitol or camping out in front of 'Ōlelo.

Those moments themselves aren't particularly cool or hip or artistic, but at least we can get a quick clip of the sausage being made without having to really see the sausage being made.

Meanwhile, the hip kids will have to invent something new that the old fogeys can't co-opt, because YouTube has gone so mainstream it's now a political tool.