By Dave Huth
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October 08, 2005

"Everyone Look at My Narcissism!"

In the MPR interview with ├╝bervloggers Ryanne Hodson and Jay Dedman the interviewer ponied out this old saw:"Isn't this just a narcissistic exercise?" In Saturday's video blogger flash meeting, Josh Kinberg said that Jay handled this question in the best possible way: concede the point without equivocation, and then laugh it off.

We don't hear the medium of television run-down because the people making the shows are "narcissistic." What could be more narcissistic than making a living as a Hollywood actor or network anchor? We don't hear about it because it's understood that people who spend their time in front of a camera kind of, um, like to be in front of the camera.

I think video bloggers are derided as self absorbed and in love with themselves because our detractors are often afraid to admit the truth: they don't care.

It's likely that critics don't want to say, "I'm comfortable being pandered to by Big Media! These little videoes are not endlessly amusing me with a stream of passively received corporate crap! I don't care about real people!" So they invent this weird vice: "narcissism." If it's applied to video blogs, then that's the reason they don't have to be interested. They never have to admit to a lack of patience or an unwillingness to listen to an idea outside of mainstream packaging.

I think it would be more fair if new viewers would consider evaluating vlogs in the same way that mainstream media is evaluated: according to content.

Why do I like Deadwood and loathe Fear Factor? Both are irrelevantly populated with narcissitic (and many other irrelevant adjectives) people. The point is when I watch Deadwood, I'm emotionally engaged. I hear important truths in the stories about society, culture, human interaction, and religious faith. All of this speaks to content.

I _don't_ watch because of the distribution technology or the personality traits of the actors (narcissistic or not). I watch because of what I consider to be powerful story, character, and cinemagraphic content. Similarly, it's easy to personally judge Fear Factor as unwatchable also by virtue of the content: buff men in speedos eating maggots afloat in a vat of horse testicles (or whatever).

I didn't get truly excited about videoblogging until I felt that chill up my spine that comes from good content. It wasn't a huge chill. I didn't feel my world tilt on its axis like I do after some episodes of Deadwood, but there is content there to respond to and admire. And it is becoming more intriguing every week.

Often videobloggers drinking their coffee bore the crap out of me, because I'm not interested in whatever ideas are there. So I just move on to something else, I don't feel the need to cast 4-syllable judgments derived from the flaws of Greek mythological figures (yes, him).

But then I see someone else with his coffee and at the core of the story is a very compelling (and I think profound) idea.

It's _all_ of it narcissistic, but the _content_ of some is worth my time.

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