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January 13, 2010
Marshal McLuhan Paging OK Go
Marshal McLuhan is a famous media theorist; among his best-known aphorisms is the notion that "the medium is the message." How does that apply to pop hit band OK, Go? Well, it's like this...
Back in 2006, OK Go were just your average unknown 4-guy pop band. Then they released a video onto YouTube and it went viral. Suddenly their song was getting attention, airplay, and the band was made men.
McLuhan's essential message is that the medium influences how the message is received. So if you're the now-popular band OK Go you should just put your new video out on YouTube and presto it'll go viral. Right? Wrong. The problem is that the band's new video is locked up in a foolish copyright-grasping box.
As reported on fan blogs like station.newteevee, the video both can't be viewed in non-US countries (which is to say YouTube is blocking large ranges of IP addresses) and the Google subdivision has blocked all attempts to embed the video. Which is to say not only is the medium not part of the message now - since embedding is such a key part of the YouTube experience - the band is also sending large chunks of its potential fan base a "we don't want to show this to you" message, if they happen to be accessing things from the wrong IP address space.
But wait, there's more. In a move pretty much guaranteed to piss off anyone who's not a trufan, OK Go have put out a plaintive "why aren't we popular anymore" video. As NewTeeVee points out, it comes across as blaming the fans for not watching the video when in many cases they can't and even where they can, they can't embed it so it will be seen by other fans.
Dear OK Go: The medium really is the message. Putting locks and chains on the medium changes it, and therefore changes your message. Like it, fix it, or leave. - Marshal
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