tampabay.com

Editor, like Queen Victoria, is not amused

By Gene Weingarten, Washington Post
Published December 16, 2007


WASHINGTON - One criticism of the so-called Mainstream Media is that we are not "hip." Or whatever expression the youngsters are using these days. The thinking goes that even though public tastes have been loosened by the anarchy of the Internet and the coarseness of prime-time cable TV, the Mainstream Media remain hopelessly out of it, still bundled and corseted into Victorian sensibilities.

This is nonsense, and I am going to prove it right now. In this column, I will fearlessly describe the latest Internet sensation, which is so edgy - so disgusting and subversive of societal norms - that even the Internet is leery of it.

The only constraint I will be under is that my editor, Tom the Butcher, has insisted that he edit the column as I write it, just to be safe. Tom will be the guy in boldface.

This is about a viral video that in the last month has been furtively viewed by tens of thousands of people. The video depicts two young women engaged in STOP.

There is actually a Greek term for what happens in this video, and it is STOP.

At issue is a certain common bathroom function, which STOP.

En este video, dos mujeres jovenes estan STOP.

You don't even know Spanish!

No, but I know YOU.

Okay, there's this video out on the Web. And the thing about it is that it's so phenomenally repulsive that you can't find it on YouTube, a venue that is not exactly famous for exercising good taste. (I, for example, have personally encountered on YouTube a version of Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit sung by Paul Anka. He snaps his fingers to the backbeat, lounge-lizard style.)

But here's the interesting part: Although you cannot find this disgusting video on YouTube, you can find on YouTube dozens and dozens of giggly home videos of people watching the disgusting video for the first time. You don't see the video itself, just people's reactions. These reactions include gagging, retching, covering their eyes with their hands and peeking through steepled fingers, and then gagging and retching, etc.

For illustrative purposes only, I am going to call what these two women are doing in the video STOP.

I was going to say ". . . performing arias from La Boheme."

Oh. OKAY. But I'm watching you very carefully.

So, as these young ladies are singing arias with great enthusiasm, and people who are viewing the video are trying really, really hard not to vomit while enjoying these all-consuming artistic performances STOP.

Trying really, really hard not to ralph, when, ironically STOP.

When the women reissue the aria as STOP.

Nazalost, izgleda da ove dve zene . . .

What the heck is that?

Serbo-Croatian.

STOP.

The important thing about this phenomenon is that, acting entirely on their own, thousands of Americans have figured out a way to share the outrageousness of this video without inflicting its grotesque imagery on others.

It is a sort of common courtesy that ought to be more widely practiced in our society, particularly during election season. Wouldn't it be great if, instead of having had to watch Rudy Giuliani accept Pat Robertson's presidential endorsement, we could instead have watched home videos of other people watching it and then racing for the porcelain?

Sporting events, too. Instead of televised golf, you could just find the same tournament on YouTube, presented as a video of people gathered around their TV, asleep. Or instead of having to watch Anderson Cooper, CNN's overemotional talking head, you could just watch videos of people watching Anderson Cooper and playing air violin. And don't get me started on some of those reality shows, which really stink.

Actually, that brings us right back to STOP.

Gene Weingarten can be reached at weingarten@washpost.com.