things to make and do on youtube

January 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

YouTube as a community of interest is an engrossing way to see how the internet 2.0 allows people to create content and engage with each other. The audiovisual version of the meme, the YouTube response video might have its roots in both the response song and the phenomenon of comedy dubbing which made its biggest splash on the big screen with Woody Allen’s What’s up Tiger Lily and continues with MXC the comedy dubbing of the Japanese game show Takeshi’s castle featuring cult Japanese actor Beat Takeshi. The response song had its heyday perhaps in the sixties. Response songs explicitly refer to or answer a previous song. A recent example is R Kelly’s If you were a boy composed as a response to Beyonce’s If I were a boy. On YouTube, response videos take a theme or technique from one video and transform it in some way.

The examples thrown down here are interesting from a linguistic point of view as well as representing evidence for an analysis YouTube as a site for the development of communities of interest.

The videos here are all subtitled from a bunker scene from the German language movie Der Untergang/The Downfall. The first re-do of the scene apparently was subtitled to tell the story of Hitler being banned from Xbox live. Answer videos include HItler finding out that Pokémon are not real, Michael Jackson is dead, has an academic article rejected, his car stolen. A belated warning taboo words appear below …

The question of whether Hitler is appropriate material to parody rarely seems to raise its head in the comment sections, though according to wikipedia, (Ok I went there to find out a bit about the film and of course they mention the videos under discussion) one answer video about parking problems in Tel Aviv provoked ire among Holocaust/Shoah survivors.

What is interesting to me about these videos is how carefully the subtitlers pay attention to tone, rhythm, and pacing in their work. Despite keeping the original German language audio, the YouTubers have disregarded the meaning of the German text but paid careful attention to the delivery of the lines matching, in the best examples, the intonation, tone and pacing. This means that the messages they are superimposing as it were over the German have to match in tone, tenor and length. No easy task I am sure.

The comic highpoint for each version for me is the sentence that triggers the soldiers’ retreat from the room. So look out for that.


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