ESPN Classic fulfilled its once-a-week quota of delivering on its mission statement Thursday with hours of programming devoted to Michael Jordan. Unfortunately, some of the decisions again made me wonder if execs have the most recent version of Merriam-Webster at hand.
Because as exciting as the 1988 dunk contest was back in the day of short shorts - 20 years before the dunk contest became a form of Saturday night torture - there are about 200 actual games involving Jordan that were more exciting than his battle with Dominique Wilkins. That particular dunk contest is remembered for appearing to be more rigged than Chicago's election returns in the 1960 presidential race, as Jordan prevailed in front of the hometown crowd. ESPN followed that by replaying the 1988 All-Star game, another contest that was all but forgotten three seconds after the buzzer sounded.
But the night ended with one of Jordan's most famous moments, his double-clutch shot in Game 5 of the first round of the 1989 playoffs. The buzzer-beating jumper sent the Bulls into the second round, extended Cleveland's sports misery, and turned Craig Ehlo into a blond, pitied punchline. After watching that I ventured to youtube to look up some more Jordan clips.
And that's where I made my mistake: I read some of the comments. In the world of online comments, YouTube ranks somewhere below the sewer that is most newspaper comments and just above...well, actually just above nothing. They're filled with bizarre spelling, sophomoric screeds, personal attacks, and illogical thinking. And those are the good ones. The rest are racist, homophobic or misogynistic, sometimes all at once.
While watching a few Jordan videos, I did begin to wonder, which genre of YouTube videos collects the very worst comments? I think you'd have to make it a nonpolitical division, as it's expected that any video related in anyway to any politician or social issue will be littered with hundreds of thousands of comments that make you fear for the future of civilization, and, more importantly, the future of the English language.
I now think any video with Jordan, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James will rank fairly high up on any list of YouTube's worst. Partly because videos of each star bring out defenders, fans and those who loathe the other players. So any video of Jordan hitting a game-winning shot is required by Internet law to include three dozen - or 3,000 - comments from people saying Bryant and James would never hit such a shot, followed by three dozen other people joining in to say Bryant's hit that shot many more times than Jordan. And exclamation points will not be rationed in those replies.
For example, this is the first video that comes up of Jordan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WmNHGA5jh8
A man (or woman) named jejeclown helpfully points out (caps are his/hers): Lebron James and Michael Jordan shouldnt even be mentioned in the same sentence. Even though i just did lol i had to make a point. MJ IS THE GREATEST. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS ABOUT IT. IF YOU ARGUE WITH THE FACTS THEN YOU SIMPLY DONT KNOW BASKETBALL. THERE WILL NEVER BE ANOTHER. LONG LIVE HIS AIRNESS.
And on the first video of Bryant - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAkjaQoG3bY - which is of his top 10 plays of 2007, there are more than 9,000 comments, including gems such as this from the1sin: ur stupid i wasnt even replying to u. i was replying to someone else who think kobes the best stupid
A complete thought lurks in there.
And that's pretty much every video of Jordan, Bryant, or James.
So what other nonpolitical videos bring out the same terrible arguments and the same horrific spellings time and time again? Anything involving music is always good. How about the song Amazing Grace, a beloved and legendary song, seemingly harmless. Perhaps there would be some comments wondering about its history, or times it's been sung at famous funerals. So I watched a video of Elvis singing it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3XdXEJEI4E
Some of the more recent comments:
Elvis is 1 of a kind and always will be their is no one ells like hem their was only 1 Elvis and any one how don't get hem are eving know wiy people like hem so much must be to young to know reel talent and the heart he had for hes music and hes fans good bless hem and may he never be forgotten.
i really dont see anything AMAZING in elvis. I mean yeh he is good looking guy and a good singer. But there is thousands of pipz like him out there. What is so Amazing with exactly Elvis?
I can see by your name that you are only 17 years old, so I will forgive ignorance !!! Maybe when you are older you will appreciate what talent is, in the meantime..Rather stick to what you think you know !!! Long live good music , and for all that appreciate older music, relax and enjoy each note !!!
Then again, Elvis can bring out folks on the fringe, those still fantasizing about skinny Elvis, and those who only remember rotund Elvis and don't see what the big deal is, other than his size. So here's II Divo singing Amazing Grace. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMVxzEueJ6A
And one of the more recent of the 1,200 comments:
This is in response to xXWindG0dXx ! You must like crap like acid rock or Marilyn Manson ! If you didn't like this then you are a sicko !!!
The Beatles. Generally regarded as the greatest rock band in history. Sure, there can be fun debates about whether you like them or the Rolling Stones better. Or maybe you want to engage with fellow youtubers on the question of whether McCartney or Lennon was the greater talent. And there are many great forums to do that. YouTube? Not one of them.
The video for I Saw Her Standing There: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNsmrd-aR1c
And the public speaks:
the beatles are mexicans
LOL your comment is hilarious!!!1
i always thought ringo was the MAIN guy
Somewhere, a guitar angrily weeps, as do literate folks everywhere.
Which genre brings out the worst? The answer is all of them. Whether it's clips of old TV talk shows, or videos of babies crying or highlight packages of championship teams or tributes to deceased grandmothers, nearly every type of video provides a forum for the worst of humanity to announce its presence in the form of delusional thoughts and poorly punctuated half-sentences. It's an English teacher's worst nightmare, a sociologist's dream.
Someday I will read a comment on YouTube that's incisive, witty, funny or charming. It'll make me think in a new way about the video I just watched. And it'll make me appreciate the writer's perspective and argument.