Youtube lovefest

May 15, 2010, [MD]

This weekend, I have three couchsurfers from Argentina staying with me, and I’ve been practicing my Spanish a lot. It’s quite rusty, but it’s fun, and we have had some great conversations. This evening, my roommate joined us, and all five of us were sitting around the table platicando. We talked about Toronto, and all the different ethnic neighbourhoods they had walked past today. About our plan to take the TTC out to Scarborough tomorrow to watch a Bollywood movie at Woodside Cinema, and then have dinner at the vegetarian South-Indian place next door. Pretty soon, we pulled out the laptop and began showing each other Youtube videos. I showed them the crazy Indian dance video “subtitled” into English, because I was curious whether it was also a hit in Argentina. It’s huge in Brazil, I know, with several “translations” to Portuguese (for example this), and lot’s of amateur “remakes” (for example 1 and 2).

Then, my friend pulled up the Rumanian Got Talent performance of “Ken Lee” (Can’t live without you, by Mariah Carey). After watching that, we watched the amazing performance of Stand By Me by street musicians around the world. It’s an incredible video, performers with such wonderful personalities, and the audio mixing brings it all together in an amazing fashion. The fascinating thing to me was that I had seen both of these earlier. Here was an Argentinian, whom I had never met until this morning, who had seen the same clip from Rumanian television, that I had!

As we were marvelling about this global culture, and were touched by Stand By Me, I chose the National Geographic ad “I love the world”. I of course had to show them the XKCD comic too, although I guess it’s funnier if you’ve been following XCKD. Then my roommate told us about a fantastic Hong Kong music video, where Eason Chan is combining dance with a projection of a sand animation. That got me thinking about other beautiful sand animations I’d seen, like this one from Korea, and the poignant winner of the Ukrainian Got Talent.

Then I wanted to show a beautiful and haunting song from the region affected by the Sichuan Earthquake, I made a mistake, and came up with the documentary about how the song was recorded — which was very touching and interesting in itself.

At that point, it was already half past midnight, and my guests, who had been walking around all day, were quite tired. They began making up the couch, while humming the melody to the song mentioned above.

There were many more songs we could have looked at, if we had the time. The two beautiful old Russian animations, Vinnie Pukh and Three from Prostokvashino, another crazy Indian “subtitled” dance video, the students of Mississippi U doing a great rendition of Jai Ho in their canteen… Or maybe how a Chinese artist reinterpreted the story of the Little Match Girl, Matt dancing around the world, or the guy who walked through China, taking a picture of himself every day. Or the amazing Chinese animation about war and peace.

Although it’s easy to get depressed by reading about tea-parties, healthcare debates and banning the hijab, we came away from our little browsing session inspired and amazed at the creativity, spirit and love embedded in many of these videos, and how they enable people to connect across the world. I love the world!


Stian Håklev May 15, 2010 Toronto, Canada
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