Wednesday, April 20, 2022

First Look: Alex Winter’s The YouTube Effect

In his other life, actor Alex Winter of Bill and Ted fame is an accomplished documentarian. Among his credits: Downloaded (2013), a fascinating study of Napster and the filesharing revolution; Deep Web (2015), an illuminating overview of the Internet’s non-indexed substratum, with special attention paid to the (alleged) Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht; and Zappa (2020), the definitive cinematic biography of maverick musician and Mothers of Invention founder Frank Zappa.

And now Winter has a new one: The YouTube Effect, which will have its world premiere June 11 at New York’s prestigious Tribeca Film Festival.

What’s it all about? According to the PR announcement:

“The feature documentary takes viewers on a timely and gripping journey inside the cloistered world of YouTube and its parent company Google; investigating YouTube's rise from humble beginnings in the attic of a pizzeria to its explosion onto the world stage, becoming the largest media platform in history and sparking a cultural revolution, while creating massive controversy in the age of disinformation. In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, YouTube brought in 8.6 billion dollars in advertising revenue, a 25 percent increase in its year to year results. While traditional media is struggling, YouTube is thriving.

The You Tube Effect examines how the platform has become a lightning rod for online radicalization, surveillance, algorithmic capitalism, the proliferation of misinformation, and of course, influencers and cat videos.

 “The feature doc is thrilling, shocking and hilarious, but always highly compelling, and above all, entertaining. YouTube is a world populated by some of the most brilliant minds in tech, business, media and politics, as well as pranksters, trolls and conspiracy theorists. The YouTube Effect gives viewers exclusive access to all of the key players.”

 And speaking of cat videos on YouTube: 

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