YouTube: Online Fame For Everyone Launched in early 2005, YouTube has changed the way we communicate. The video-sharing Web site has given us a new way of reaching each other, not to mention shortcuts to fame, nostalgia and togetherness.
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YouTube: Online Fame For Everyone

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YouTube: Online Fame For Everyone

YouTube: Online Fame For Everyone

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

We're taking some time to look back at the decade that's coming to a close. We're revisiting each year to try to find a signal event that, for better or worse, changed our culture. Today, we revisit 2005, the year YouTube launched. The video-sharing Web site has become a daily source of entertainment for many people, from silly home videos to rare footage of popular bands. But Carrie Brownstein of NPR Music's Monitor Mix blog says there's more to it than that.

CARRIE BROWNSTEIN: Let's start with the ways YouTube has reconfigured the definitions of celebrity and stardom. Remember when your only shot at getting millions of people to watch a video of your cat playing the piano was to send it to "America's Funniest Home Videos" and hope for the best?

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

BROWNSTEIN: Now, you can instantly upload videos - not just of your cat playing the piano, but also your cat's pre-recital stretches and routines, those outtakes where your cat feigned ignorance about Beethoven, and the time he refused to play anything but Leon Redbone.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

BROWNSTEIN: Five years after the Web site launched, movie, television and music executives now look to YouTube as a recruitment tool. News outlets use YouTube videos for their human interest stories, which means that more people than ever really, truly believe that they can be famous, that they can get their 15 minutes. But what does fame even mean in the world of YouTube? After all, a four-year-old in her nightgown singing The Beatles can become as big of a sensation as, well, The Beatles themselves.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "BECAUSE")

U: (Singing) Because the wind is high...

BROWNSTEIN: In fact, every time you doubt that something really existed, YouTube is there to tell you, yes, this existed. It really happened. YouTube is a sports stadium's JumboTron rendered in miniature. From the comfort of our home or office, we feel like we're all thinking about and tuning into the same things, and that's strangely reassuring. YouTube has allowed us to find images and lives and people we never even knew we were looking for, like Susan Boyle or the "Chocolate Rain" singer or the guy crying about Britney Spears.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

WERTHEIMER: Her song is called "Give Me More" for a reason because all you people want is more, more, more, more, more. Leave her alone.

BROWNSTEIN: YouTube allows everything and all of us to be a spectacle - at least for a moment. But a moment is all we are after, or all we have time for - or so the world of YouTube would lead us to believe.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE")

U: (Singing) All you need is love.

WERTHEIMER: Carrie Brownstein's blog is called Monitor Mix. All these week, we'll be talking about the past decade in music, and you can learn more at nprmusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE")

U: (Singing) Love is all you need.

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