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"that gargoyle or whatever it was": YouTube Comments Meet Television Content

by Ethan Tussey

by Rosalynn Rothstein for IN MEDIA RES

In TLC's Four Weddings, four brides agree to attend the three other contestant's weddings and judge the wedding for a chance to win a honeymoon prize. Online viewers of the clips of the full episodes shown on TLC negotiate their relationship with marriage in the context of the competitive aspects of the television show. This clip, where the three brides respond to Gollum's appearance at one bride's wedding, elicits a variety of responses from YouTube users.

Comments on Four Weddings clips judge the quality of the dresses in each episode, discuss the behavior of the brides when they are guests at other weddings and other material aspects of the marriage celebrations. Responses to this specific clip vary. Uncoolnerd comments, “Would any guy here want to marry those bitchy bridesmades? Not fuck, but marry.” Critical comments are often critical of one or more of the women portrayed in the clip. Other comments, such as bibi5767's “Wedding is for brides and not for a groom's fantasy,” demonstrate a familiarity with the events of the episode not included in the clip. Comments like these examples fit into an overall framework controlled by the YouTube's standardized formant. The comments reflect viewer's concerns with the portions of the television episodes shown in this structured environment for expression.

Obviously YouTube has become a driving force in user's interpretations of popular culture, but how do we understand the practice of commenting beyond the textual remnants of what is sometimes thought of momentary actions of expression? What kind of mechanisms are being activated when users comment on these videos and what are the implications in this specific context, where the media being commented on was originally created for television? The depth of the technologies and cultural practices structuring the media that intersect in this context are broad. We must consider them in order to get a better understanding of how users are engaging the practice of marriage through this forum.

 

Four Weddings-Gollum

scene that sparked YouTube comments

from Four Weddings (2010)
Creator: TLC
Posted by Ethan Tussey
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