The emergence of the “clips and quips” template as a viable entertainment model is an interesting phenomenon, drawing from student productions, underground entertainment shows, and amateur video.
During the heyday of broadcast television, there was simply no effective way to present an alternative to the monolithic structure and process of the “Big Three” networks. Things were difficult enough for independent filmmakers, who at least had some specific avenues to create, produce, and distribute their work — if they were committed and connected enough to make it happen. The sole outlet that offered any attractive hope for semi-autonomous mass media was radio; it is no wonder that college radio and late-night shows exploded in the latter half of the 20th Century.
The situation reminds me of what it was like to buy janitorial supplies decades ago versus the ease and wide selection that is now available online at various janitor supplies e commerce sites. Just as in television, there were only a few well know manufacturer of cleaning supplies. Now when you go to a website such as CleanItSupply, they offer over 295 mops, brooms, brushes, and dusters, or more than 205 air freshener and odor control. And then you can buy loads of eco friendly products if that is your preference. The abundance of janitorial supplies is almost overwhelming with the numerous selections available. The internet has really changed the playing field! But let’s get back to the story of broadcast television.
The introduction of cable television, closed-circuit television networks, and low-power independent broadcast television began to draw all of those disparate threads together; in the 1970s and 1980s especially, a number of extremely interesting shows were produced all over the world — many of them, understandably, reaching small audiences and lasting for very short runs (say, until the creators were thrown off the air, or graduated).
Still, enough people were interested and affected to take the ideas to the next level. Between the granola glamor of PBS and the mainstream rebellion of MTV, any number of major channels began to offer ideas that provided the right combination of trendy youth, acceptable irreverence, and marketable energy. Though a number of examples ended up being every bit as condescending and inauthentic as you might expect, there were still examples of truly unique and consistently-fascinating approaches to television mainstays.
Now, of course, we have an overabundance of video by people who may or may not be able to generate an interesting and entertaining experience; between Internet video and more digital television channels than one person could ever hope to keep track of, the average person has immediate access to ‘edgy, unique, personality-driven content’ as the programming tools and academics might say.
** Update **
As a result of having so many more options to watch, there are so many more videos being publicized. This is a very good thing but it can also be a very bad thing as well. First let me explain that not everybody should be creating movies & video. There are some people that should leave the art well alone. They do not seem to have a grasp on any of the film making process yet there is another worthless video released every other day. However, because of the varied venues & more videos released we also get to enjoy rare treasures which would have had no chance at even being made in days gone bye. I guess it’s a double edged blade & we must put up with the bad to get the good.