Send In The Clowns

People get stupid ideas in their heads, and they share them, and irrational fears get triggered, and suddenly it’s A Thing.

The clowns, for example. In Greenville, South Carolina, where rumors of creepy activity near the Fleetwood Manor Apartments started swirling and a general panic ensued -- exacerbated, not tamped down, by a letter to tenants from the property manager:

There has [sic] been several conversation [sic] and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing taking children or trying to lure children in the woods…..

That’s right. A horror-flick-style nightmare involving a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing. (So maybe not an actual clown with real clown DNA, but some sort of imposter. So don’t, you know, jump to conclusions. Your carelessness can stigmatize the entire clown community.)



Anyway, parents are scared out of their wits and the cops actually had to beef up on their clown patrols and, naturally, the Internet lit up like an electrified nose -- in spite of no confirmed clown sightings, no trail of huge footprints, no tiny-12-passenger-car tire tracks, no greasepaint on tree limbs. But the rumor was reported just about everywhere.

Which was only the month’s second-dumbest social media freakout. The first was the spasm of righteous indignation in reaction to YouTube’s clarification of its ad-friendliness standards – i.e., directly informing creators when a given post has been disqualified from AdSense over content sensitivities.

“Taking away monetization is a form of censorship,” said YouTuber Philip DeFranco, in a post that has snared 5.3 million views. He titled it “YouTube is shutting down my channel and I’m not sure what to do.”

Gosh, Philip, why not start by telling a big fat lie? YouTube is not shutting you down. They’ve turned down 12 of your zillion posts for ad adjacency on content grounds. For crying out loud, there’s a 30-second pre-roll before this very video. But since you’re feeling so unfairly targeted, the second thing you could do is vilify the company that gives you free distribution, no questions asked, and has spent billions building out the very ad platform that makes you money in your sleep without a single penny of expense for you. 

At least you didn’t compare them to Stalin and Hitler, like other morons did. But you did play the abused-innocent card. 

“I’m a child of a broken marriage. I didn’t know what it was to have a safe home, a safe refuge, so I’ve always been planning for my home to turn on me.”

Turn on you? First of all, the content standards have not changed at all. Not even a smidge. The only thing that’s changed is how directly the news gets back to creators when a post is deemed unfit for AdSense. Which I’m pretty sure is a service to the creators.

Secondly…censorship? What!!?? Is the government involved, suppressing speech or something? No, YouTube is an ad medium that has to provide a safe home for its advertisers, like every other media channel in history. Do you have any idea how long it took them to get any major advertiser to even think about YouTube, because marketers didn’t want to risk being associated with porn, violence, unchecked vulgarity, cruelty, political extremism or even politics of any kind?  

Dude, explain to your spoiled-brat friends that Google’s efforts, and their standards, are why you all can make a living making second-rate material from your bedrooms. If you wish to be ad-supported, you have to play by those rules. Period. If you don’t care about the ad revenue, you don’t have to. You can post almost anything you want. This panic and fear mongering is just plain stupid.

My goodness, such a convergence of ignorance and entitlement. They even have their own Twitter protest hashtag. Never mind the woods of South Carolina. Check out #YouTubeIsOVerParty.That’s where you’ll locate the clowns.

1 comment about "Send In The Clowns".
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  1. Garrett Donaldson from JKR Advertising & Marketing, September 12, 2016 at 3:12 p.m.

    I am so glad you reminded the reading public that the 1st Amendment only applies to government intervention and restraint.

    In your career as a writer, has a publisher or editor ever killed a story or column? If so, did you whine about the freedom of the press? I doubt it much methinks. You might've been pissed-off, but cannot imagine invoking the Bill of Rights. Because that's what adults don't do.

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