Ever wonder why videos like this are up online? You see these relatively high-quality, well-produced ehow videos in the suggested videos bar every now and again, offering any sort of title like “how to unclog your sink,” “how to back up your email,” etc. ad inifinitum. And every once in a while, the video ends up actually being pretty helpful. I know I’ve used a few user-submitted videos to back myself out of a hole using sound recording programs or Photoshop. They’re pretty helpful most of the time.
But where do they come from? I have to applaud the propensity of the every day Joe Plumber to share his knowledge of various spigots, pumps and liquid cleaners with a burning passion and paralyzing cheer, but at a certain point, the apparently quite-common drive to put these videos up really makes you wonder what these people hope to get out of it.
And lo, the spirit of capitalism rides in again with on its white steed of innovation, consolidation and professionalism to streamline the process. In this case, our subject is the pros at Demand Studios. Recognizing a market in the hyper-dense media mire for well-put together how-to’s, their Expert Village channel offers a wealth of quick tips on cooking, home improvement, yoga, and, of course, fashion.
Which brings us to punk fashion tips, and our intrepid heroine, who breaks down an entire philosophy and mentality into some quick pointers on spicing up your image to that of your casual riot grrrl or disaffected loiterer (Aside -- and hopefully not taken as overly critical -- this chick looks like an extra ripped clean out of Mallrats. Like some disaffected slouch kicking it outside of the staff entrance, dragging on a cigarette she jacked out of Mom’s purse along with 20 bucks for a movie and burger. If there was anyone I’d ask for punk fashion tips, it’d be her, so at least we’re getting out money’s worth here).
She does a pretty excellent job of breaking down some of the core values of punk rock: independence, personal style of blind consumerist fashion, but then goes on to break down exactly how to mimic it -- a strange dichotomy at the heart of almost all of these how-to vids. “Punk is more of a lifestyle or an attitude…” she says. You can almost smell the conflict brewing underneath her voice, struggling to keep herself ambivalently removed from the condensation of the spirit of punk rock into some quick fashion tips. It’s a strange combination, knowing that she’s most likely making a few bucks off this video (based off the ads running between every section), peddling her DIY style in a homemade how to video, instructing people on how to look just like her. It’s an overwhelming combination.
The idea of economically-motivated how-to videos, made for a song and turning a decent cash profit is, when you get right down to it, sort of brilliant. But is it paying? Demand Studios site offers $300-500 a video series for about 8 minutes of video (1). What I’m wondering is how much those ads are paying for. I’m not a pro on figuring out the particulars of internet advertising revenues, but one has to wonder just how much is rolling into the studio that makes them able to pay off something like that. But hey, at least my eyeliner looks good, right?