By James Restall
John Lennon once said, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not time wasted.” The snowed-under finalist may well
disagree, but let’s not forget that university students are the ultimate professional procrastinators.
Since its 2005 launch, YouTube has provided essay-writers with the perfect vehicle for distraction. Be it an irate dog-walker cursing his pet as it hurtles towards a stampede of deer, a clip from your favourite TV show or badgers, you’ll never struggle to find something to fill a five minute break.
But in the last six months it’s all changed. Adverts. It’s as if our tutors, big businesses and YouTube are conspiring against us in a digital-age axis of evil to make sure we focus on our work. If given the choice between grappling with Marx’s 18th Brumiere or reliving the euphoria David Beckham’s free kick against Greece in 2002, it would be the footy every time. But Becks with thirty seconds of enforced propaganda from Boots trying to sell me hair care products? I’d rather spend the extra fi ve minutes with Karl.
Granted, you can skip through some ads now, but even then you’ve got a few seconds to contemplate whether it’s worth your while watching the video. It’s not just a question of time – I’ve also got a moral gripe with the introduction of product placements.
Thanks to YouTube, the brilliant comedy sketches filmed for Comic and Sport Relief can be viewed every day across the globe, raising awareness for the causes without the nauseating studio presenting of Davina McCall or Jonathan Ross. Yet even these short clips are constrained by advertising; I find it unacceptable that corporations should stand to benefit on the back of a charity video. I can just about accept the seemingly endless commercials on 4oD’s YouTube channel. While it is irritating to have to wait for a good five minutes for The Inbetweeners, it’s a luxury to have pure comedy gold such
as Father Ted easily accessible online.
This set of four ads is essentially a condensed TV commercial break – enough time to boil the kettle, but not enough to sufficiently send you to sleep. But when I’m looking for a cheeky break from the monotony of library tomes, all I really want to see is a short clip of Father Jack Hackett shouting “Arse”, preferably ad-free. I guess this is all part and parcel of the commercial, 21st century society, and it does seem a bit harsh to complain about a service we’ve enjoyed free of charge for years. The worrying thing is wondering what advertising will turn to next – sponsored Facebook statuses? Give me a break.