Open Letter to Carmike, Patrick Stump, and youTube

Readers, it’s confession time.

Sunday night, before arriving at goth night, I went to Franklin. To a movie theater. To watch a taped performance of a Fall Out Boy show. I know, I know, but I figured that having a camera’s view of the show would free me up to hide in the back and dance my ass off when they come to Memphis. (See what I did there? Also confessed to plans of driving to Memphis to see them. Will I stop at nothing?) There were only 20 or so people in the theater, which kind of makes me feel like FOB have gone full-circle. As in “it’s so completely uncool to like them that admitting to liking them is kind of punk rock.” You’re not buying that rationale, are you? Fine.

The theater, for reasons unknown to me, showed a rock concert by only using the two speakers up front by the screen. Rock concert. Quiet sound. You can do the math. The speakers running up the sides of the theater didn’t do anything until after the credits rolled and the “hey, go buy the new album” trailer came on. Also, there were several points during the show when the video wasn’t synced correctly with the audio. Either that, or FOB’s fans are without the ability to mouth the words at the right time, and guitar solos can appear to be getting played by no one. Nitpicky enough for you? There were also little title cards that would precede bits of interview footage. When writing words across a screen that’s 30 feet by 70 feet, kern your type. Every time a title card came up, I could hear Wendy in my head singing “kern yo’ type, bitch!”

I was willing to forget all this and figure that the whole experience was still worth 10 bucks and 90 minutes. Willing to go without publicly admitting going to this. But something’s stuck in my craw. Something’s BEEN stuck in my craw through all of the interviews that I’ve accidentally seen/read. Shall we?

Patrick, I love you, but your filter needs a little work. Before you talk on camera, think “what’s this going to sound like to someone who doesn’t know me?” Step outside of yourself and imagine yourself as the listener. I’m doing it right now. Were you?

For those of you who weren’t there, Patrick said some things about how everyone is so busy promoting themselves and filming with camera phones that they forget to actually experience life. He also said something about how YouTube is really just MEtube, and how we’re all really, really self-involved. I’m not saying every word everyone says should be run past a PR person. That would be gross and insincere. I’m just saying that he might want to dial the superior attitude down to a comfortable 7.

On the “everybody has a camera phone” topic, I can understand how someone who spends his time looking down into an orchestra pit filled with tiny glowing LCD screens would think that filming is all people do. You’re like “hello? I’m sweating my balls off up here!” and they’re looking at their phones. Just accept that those people have chosen not to rock out with reckless abandon. Those people chose to look through a tiny screen. Not the path I choose at shows I care about, but hey. What those people do is their business, unless they’re doing it in my personal space. If they choose to spend money on a ticket and then stare at their phones, they have the right to do that, even if it’s kind of stupid.

On the you/me Tube subject, youTube isn’t only about girls with no talent trying to get famous for doing something stupid. Yes, there are plenty of those (I venture to say you’ve run into a third of them, all wanting record deals), but there are just as many people doing something worthwhile. For example, there’s a girl in England who openly and honestly posts vlogs about cutting herself. It’s melodramatic and masochistic, but it’s also ballsy as hell. The point is that I said to myself, “damn…if she can do THAT, I can certainly use this to record possible stand-up comedy bits…to hell with what people think.” If we let it be, youTube can be the ultimate reality tv, the ultimate high school reunion, the ultimate open mic night, and the ultimate experimental theater. Besides, people put old Journey videos on there, and those things are hilarious.

I also find it a little troubling for you to be sitting around telling us how self-centered “people” are. I don’t know if you noticed, but you’re a singer/guitarist. History indicates that one singer/guitarist can out-ego all the rest of the world combined. I don’t know you, but you don’t know me either, and your wholesale indictment of all people using new media implied that we are all Tila Tequila. One who openly admits to not being very into the internet ought not to make broad judgments about what goes on here. I’m here more than you are, and I like these people. Not all of them, but enough of them to make the trip worthwhile.

I say this in love: superiority is not a good look. Don’t make media black and white. We exist in shades of gray. We never outlive our words, so we should make sure we’re comfortable with what we leave behind. Imagine yourself as the listener and think before you speak.