Free Entertainment?

Written by PushingUpRoses on November 27th, 2010

As many of you may know, I am a youtube video producer.  In fact, nearly all of my video content goes up on youtube, because that is where my fan base initially started.  I recently got picked up as a Channel Awesome video producer, which is pretty sweet.  I’d actually been trying to join the That Guy with the Glasses community for over a year now, and it is very fulfilling to accomplish a goal like that.  Especially after 4 rejections…*coughbittercough!*

Nah, I am having a great time with Channel Awesome, and I love all the people involved; fans and contributors alike.  Though, there is one thing that has been getting on my goat.  Now, most of you guys already know that I am not a cynical reviewer or writer.  It simply isn’t my style.  I, in NO way, want to come off as a “My opinion is better!  This game sucks and you shouldn’t like it and you’re stupid for liking it!” type of reviewer.  I even admit to being put off by some cynical reviewers.  Everyone has their own style of course, but I like to keep my material fairly light and goofy, so I don’t come off as sounding superior.

That being said, I want this to be clear: This article represents my personal opinion.  You can agree, you can disagree, you can stay on the fence, whatever you choose.

I *hate* it when other internet personalities and (sometimes)  fans respond to negative comments with “It’s free entertainment, stop complaining!”

It’s not *actually* free entertainment.   You still *need* the internet to view online content, and unless you are pirating someone’s cable connection, you are most likely paying a monthly fee.   Now, I am currently watching Back to the Future 3 on TV.   You could say I’m watching it for free.  However, I pay a monthly bill to have this cable.  So is it really free?  Not really.  I pay my monthly television bill so I can get channels and a variety of shows to watch.  I pay my internet bill so I can view a variety of internet shows on various “channels”.  There isn’t really a difference as far as paying those bills go.  Some would say TV has gone to shit and the internet offers much more, but that doesn’t mean you don’t pay that monthly bill.

Saying “It’s free entertainment” is not an acceptable response to people giving constructive criticism or slightly negative feedback to a video on the internet.   I hate seeing those kind of comments from *anyone*.   And even if it was completely free entertainment, that doesn’t make it *good* entertainment. Free =/= quality.   If I ever come back to some criticism on one of my videos with “Shut up, it’s free!” then I will truly be disappointed in myself.  I do want to make you guys the best internet entertainment I can, but if you don’t like what I have to offer, that is completely okay.  People should be allowed to dislike something, and express their opinion on that without  trying to be convinced otherwise.

I’m not going to lie and say that negative comments don’t hurt.  Of course they do.  You work hard on something, and it stings when someone doesn’t like it, but I would never react immaturely to someone who doesn’t, and I would never try to convince someone to think otherwise by saying “It’s free.”

Hell, I don’t like a lot of things.  I hate the song Caribbean Queen, and no one can convince me otherwise!  I hate it!  The chorus sounds like “GARY BUSEEEEY!”

Anyways, I am rambling now.  I just felt like bringing this up, since I see these kind of comments thrown around a lot, and it was starting to bother me. I’ll get back to being a goof in the next article.

By the way, shrimp is disgusting.  It really is.

  • http://twitter.com/Zenithwillrule David DeGregorio

    I agree 100 percent. I hate trolls and wish you luck in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/khakhov Khadeja Merenkov

    What a REFRESHING post, Roses! I loved it when you said that free =/= quality because that is absolutely true. We do not have to like something because it is free. When you receive a free apple, and you hate apples, you don't have to like it just because someone gave it to you. Be polite, and give the apple to someone else. In the case of online fun stuff like videos, if you don't like the video, just move on. It's nice that someone made the effort but there is no reason why you should be forced to like it. At the same time – don't be a d-bag!

    Reacting immaturely is just something some people do on the internet due to their anonymity. I wish people would take the manners they use in real life and have it translate to video comments.

  • CitizenKiryu

    I think the immediate rejection of dissenting opinions has become a societal problem of its own, regardless of what is being opined about. In cases like movies, games, music or, in this case, internet personalities, it can be (and often is) chalked up to simple fanboy/girl-ism. But the idea of “you disagree with me, therefore you are wrong…….and you suck!” has become so entrenched in our culture now that it's taken over even our political discourse.

    Dissension is becoming frowned upon in all its forms….shouted down by the loud and angry defenders who sometimes can't even explain their defense. Logic and reason are becoming the exceptions. Blind defense without thought, the norm. It scares me.

    And I think this comment has gone a bit off the rails. I'm'a shut up now. I really liked this, though.

  • pushinguproses

    Haha, no worries! I like it when people leave thoughtful comments like this.

  • Minic

    Totally agree with you on two counts:

    1. Cynicism isn't necessarily the only thing that can make these online reviews interesting. People tend to think the opposite, which is why you see so many awkward “my official rant on such-and-such franchise” videos on Youtube. Honestly, I find a well-made tribute much more interesting. James Rolfe's movie reviews and the Happy Video Game Nerd spring to mind.

    2. My problem with the “free entertainment” retort lies in the second word of that phrase. You're still creating a product for me to enjoy, and as such I am entitled to call out anything that gets in the way of that, whilst being constructive about it. Using that line is about on par with saying “it's not meant to be Citizen Kane”.

  • Chris H

    The main thing that annoys me is when people call something they don't like 'overrated' instead of just admitting that they didn't personally like it i.e. “It doesn't matter that The Spoony One is a lauded and award winning internet comedian, because 'I' didn't like him, that makes him overrated.

  • NeoScriptor

    You have a very sound argument. Most negatives comments are either constructive or troll-y. The constructive ones set themselves up for a reasonable, intelligent response, but the trolls are just looking for a reaction to prove that they've affected their target.

    But I have to say.. Caribbean Queen is a great song!!! hrmph.

  • AnthonyR

    I do agree to an extent that it shouldn't be the first way to defend someone that “Its free. STFU”. However, many sites offer an entertainment very similar to that of yours and many others on Channel Awesome and on Youtube as well. The only difference is, these sites make you pay with a monthly subscription to that site as well. So, on top of the bill you pay with internet, you will also be paying one for the particular site.

    Also, in the example you gave for watching the movie Back to the Future 3.(A movie I noticed you said you where watching on Twitter a few hours ago, meaning this thought provoking article was able to be written out well in that short time.) Well, in that case, even though you are being responsible for paying for your internet, the movie could have still been offered on a pay per view channel. In that case, the movie wouldn't be free either.

    But to the point you where making, I think people should use a better way to defend the producers video in question rather than just say “Well, its free.” Good entertainment is good entertainment, no matter the cost. I will admit that I will still go for free entertainment, such as the examples I listed rather than the paying ones, no matter the quality. To me, those are made with a better understanding of an audience, seeing as its available to the world, rather than the few that are paying the fees on the site.

  • pushinguproses

    The sites that want you to pay for subscriptions are still not too different from TV. HBO and Showtime are good examples of that. On top of paying special fees for say, HBO, or special channels, you pay the regular bill. The internet still offers those same things. It's pretty much like saying those paid subscriptions are like HBO or Showtime, and stuff like blip.tv and youtube are like TNT, etc. There really is no difference. The point really is, it's not an appropriate response. I think 'Deja summed it up perfectly in her comment, actually.

    I actually wrote this out several weeks ago, just wasn't sure if I wanted to post it or not.

  • Zai

    I still think it's free content, it just depends on how you look at it. You pay for internet for the right to access blogs, sites and shows, but you aren't paying directly FOR that service (unless it's a paysite, of course). I'm not on your website paying you for your content, it's provided to me for free from you. Even if you get benefits from it through ad revenue or the like.

    Just a matter of opinions is what it comes down to, ultimately. While I see and can recognize your point, I still think internet is different than cable services. But that's just me.

  • http://scarlettopia.com Scarlett

    I do think the “free entertainment” claim has some merit, in that – as AnthonyR said – in *most* cases you don't pay an extra fee to view content on video review websites, above and beyond your Internet bill. And when you consider that there are hundreds of millions of websites online, dividing your bill by that number would make the cost per website completely negligible. Sure, most people probably have a core 50 or so websites that they visit regularly, just like they might have 50 or so TV channels they prefer on cable or satellite. But the choices are far more diverse and numerous online, versus standard television where you have 10 sports channels, a handful of major networks, some home/garden programing, etc.

    You're right though – an indignant cry of “free entertainment, bishes!” is a cop-out in terms of replying to *constructive* criticism. But sadly, truly constructive (helpful, well-meaning, intelligent) critiques seem to be few and far between these days, especially on sites like TGWTG where people can largely utilize anonymity to mask their comments. So until fans take the time to compose tactful comments (even if they're negative or critical in nature), they shouldn't expect tactful responses.

    Maybe I'm just old school though; I miss the days when “if you don't have something nice to say, be respectful or say nothing at all”. Back when Nintendo was cutting edge and LOL was a meaningless acronym. … Damn, I feel old. 😉

  • Jeremy

    I dunno. Most of the criticism that receives the “It's free, shut up” response (which, side note, usually comes from fans and not creators) is typically not of the “constructive” variety. “This is stupid.” “How can you like X?” etc. Even when it IS constructive, it's not always something that can immediately be corrected “You need better recording equipment” etc.

    At those times, I fully understand the sentiments of “We didn't lure you here with false promises to line our pockets”

    Now, I currently listen to only one podcast and it is free material. The broadcaster of that show actually did address the same thing you're talking about here. His thought is that, just because he's offering the program for free does not mean that he is exempt from professionalism or giving his fans the best production he can. He goes so far as to say that to NOT do so is insulting to your fanbase. Then he attributes his success (and he IS pretty damned successful) to putting forth this effort each and every time.

    I'd definitely say that your attitude is the way to move forward in your chosen medium. Keep it going!

  • pushinguproses

    What is sad is, even constructive criticism on Youtube/TGWTG gets down voted. People seem to take those kind of comments out of context. If I get something constructive on my video, it'll have 30 down votes by the next day, and I'll feel genuinely bad because I know those people are just expressing their opinion, and I can't do ANYTHING to up vote it because the down votes are overwhelming. When I do get something constructive, and it gets trashed in the comments, I usually send that person a direct message.

    I still can't say that it's free. Beyond the internet being more diverse, I don't think there are too many differences between that, and paying my television bill. I will say this though: With the internet, I can choose to watch something whenever I want, and have the power to find things that are old, new, from whatever generation, (almost). TV is limited to recording your shows (and seriously, who the hell wants to do that? I hate recording stuff. I always forget anyway.). Videos online makes it possible for me to watch my favorite videos over and over again without much work. Boot it up, and bam. There it is. Very convenient. I also think internet entertainment can offer more quality. It seems like nobody likes what is on TV these days, really..a lot of people use the internet in place of TV. I simply can't make the claim that it's free. Especially after paying that 90 dollar bill last month just so I could keep my internet. Ugh.

  • pushinguproses

    Thanks, and I totally agree! Even if it's “Free”, this does not mean you don't try your very best. It's kind of like if I gave you a shrimp cocktail for free. But you hate shrimp. It'd be silly of me to expect you to like it just because it's free.

    (For the record, I haaaaaaate shrimp.)

  • Jeremy

    Yeah, they are nasty little beasties masquerading as food. I first tried them as tenpura, and have given them several chances since. Nevar again!

  • Paw

    Whenever I hear it, it's a cop-out for handling criticism really. “You don't like what I do? Hey I'm giving you free entertainment, you owe me!” etc. etc.

  • Altoman5

    You make a good point, Roses. The “free entertainment” argument doesn't really work anyway if you're not going to give out thoughtful reasons why you like or dislike a video. Of course there are always going to be trollers no matter which side they are on. Good article.

    Oh and BTW, I like shrimp and Billy Ocean. I love Caribbean Queen. You're breaking my heart, Roses. :(

  • MiuGu

    I admit I didn't read the comments so I may be repeating things said 17 times, but anyways.

    I agree with you up to a point.

    First in what I disagree is when people are saying things like you need better image quality or voice quality, for those it's completely ok to retort that you're not making any money out of these and don't have money to improve those things.

    But I completely agree on the quality basis, if it's shit and someone says so and someone says to that “Well, it's free quit whining” they're only wasting space and making themselves look like an idiot. Also I have to say I hate fanboys/girls who decend on any negative comments even if it's well constructed critisism, although authors who do that are even worse. Then again comments that just bash someone who's worked hard to actually create something are the worst offenders.

    But my biggest disagreement with your article is that shrimps are awesome, especially when they're fresh and you can pick them out of their shells and eat them.

  • http://twitter.com/LexVader Lex Vader

    Um ahh uh… oh. :(

  • pap64

    This might be off topic, but the other thing that upsets me about some of these people is that often they believe that producers and contributor should ONLY be a producer or contributor for YouTube or TGWTG. It bothered me how many people told the Nostalgia Chick to either choose her show or her life because she wasn't around. Same with Goggles, and Linkara with his Power Rangers video.

    It's like you are not allowed to have a life outside your shows, and that really bothers me. I love you guys, but not to the extend where I want you to dedicate your whole lives to entertaining me. If you have something better to pursue in life you should have the right to accomplish it. So if that means putting a show on hold, fine.

    Producers should be given the right and freedom to do with their shows what they please. Even if we disagree with them and criticize them but if that's what they want to do then fine.

    Sorry for the off topic ramblings, Roses, but I respect you guys enough to understand that you guys have lives to attend to.

  • Vince_snake

    When someone says that to me I awnser: My comment is free, if you dont like it dont read it!

  • LotusPrince

    Perhaps the statement should be amended to “It's entertainment at no additional cost!” 😛

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  • Smokingcomrade

    I was gonna say something bad to you for another post, but… fuck. I'm pretty sure you're the first tgwtg contributor who thinks like this, like a correctly functioning human being I mean.

    Now, if you could just beat Spoony to accept that he can't just banhammer anyone who thinks that his show could be better with X change or that some Y element isn't really working; it would be great. Maybe make him change that horrible opening. Yep.

    Also, the memos go in the blue folders, try remembering next time.

    Yep

    And also, I need you to come to work this sunday. Kbye.

  • Vangelus

    re: A comment getting depressingly downvoted

    That happened to one on the Omega Spreem review I posted on TGWTG a few weeks ago. I didn't really know what to do within the site's comment technology, so I left a message stating that the comment was barely abusive at best + even stated that its writer looked forward to seeing another one of my videos, so wtf dudes.

    Then again (as I said there), I honestly have never understood the point of anonymous upvoting/downvoting systems for individual comments on Youtube or any other site. If it makes people feel better then whatevs, I'm still gonna read the comment if it's on my video. :)

    The whole constructive criticism thing is something that I leave up to the videomaker, at the end of the day. Personally, I think it strengthens my resolve as a media maker to make myself read the positive and negative comments, regardless of constructivity. In heavily negative comments, sometimes there is a good point buried beneath poor delivery, and at worst it does thicken one's skin to abusive comments every time one forces one's self to read one. I am certainly not flawless in how I take crits, but I've always tried to avoid outright removing unconstructive ones from my YT videos. I feel it helps me grow as a media maker, and it also leaves it up to the commenter if they want their words to remain in public view down the line.

    That and often, civility (be it through engagement or a total lack of engagement) is more disarming than the block button to a viewer who is simply looking for a fight, in my experience. 😀

  • Vangelus

    I have a lot of very particular views in regards to the responsibilities of both the media maker and the viewer in the realm of constructive discourse, but I usually don't share them outside of Skype calls for the sake of not putting people on the spot. XD

    Not to say that your post here has done so. I generally agree with it! I feel the entire “free entertainment” discussion in feedback comments is somewhat denegrating to both the media maker and the viewer. It's IMO very loaded with personal semantics and does little to enrich the experience for either side of the argument.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Farts/100000910407443 Nick Farts

    “You're right though – an indignant cry of “free entertainment, bishes!” is a cop-out in terms of replying to *constructive* criticism. But sadly, truly constructive (helpful, well-meaning, intelligent) critiques seem to be few and far between these days, especially on sites like TGWTG where people can largely utilize anonymity to mask their comments. So until fans take the time to compose tactful comments (even if they're negative or critical in nature), they shouldn't expect tactful responses.”

    That's funny to hear this coming from you of all people, Scarlett. On multiple occasions I came on Noah's site and gave fair and just critiques on certain issues regarding his personal work ethic that he could improve on for the quality of his content. There was even a comment I made where I compared him to someone that in the near future ended up joining Blistered Thumbs to showcase how Noah can be funnier and save time on filming/editing. Of course there was an outcry from fans and was banned for it. Please come back to me and the fan base when both you and Noah can figure out the difference between someone giving advise and someone running his mouth.

    Anyways this is a serious problem with the TGWTG community as a whole. First LordKAT spoke out against it. Now we see PushingUpRoses taking a stand. I'm glad to see people using common sense on rabid fans that feel the very contributors can't defend themselves. Still we need to see both on the forums and in videos people addressing this entire situation. This also should be applied to the straw men arguments of “if you don't like it, don't watch it”, “make your own reviews and see if you're any better”, “your opinion is only your opinion”, “you can't criticize the critics”, and “you can't say anything bad about someone on their own site”.

    I've got some news for you people. People do not have one view for every subject imaginable. Not everyone is going to like something that you like. The world doesn't work this way and every single one of these arguments listed above are flawed beyond belief. These are the same lazy arguments that are made on the site where said person may either be banned or is ganged up on by everyone to the point where they may not want to post anymore. You want a community to grow with people that have multiple opinions. Not a fascist regime of people who like everything produced under the sun.

  • AkewsticRockR

    I think it's really hard to just find “normal” people online, but that's doubly true when we're talking about a sub-culture that's as heavily steeped in socially-awkward, self-protecting uber nerdery, as TGWTG is.

    While I sometimes enjoy the content produced by TGWTG, for the most part I think it's pretty c-grade when compared to all the other videos I've observed online. Especially when it comes to production values and editing.

    But my chief complaint would be that I REALLY can't stand the fandom when I observe it in action. Most recently, in regards to the videos posted from magfest. When I hear about people packing out a room and flipping out over the opportunity to meet Spoony or Linkara or whatever, and then worshipping them for every tiny thing they do and say… I can't help but facepalm.

    These are people that make videos on the internet, and outside of the TGWTG circle, what they do means next to nothing to the rest of the world at large. I don't mean to be a dick about it, but seriously, when I watch a video of the “panel” and they introduce everyone over the course of what feels like an eternity with 10 second pauses for clapping, I can't help but think “these people are going to eventually think they're hot shit, even when they're not.” And when that happens, what occurs? Usually that's when the old fans start getting blocked.

    For instance, I don't think its any secret that Spoony's content has been nowhere near the level of humor and wit that it used to be. Maybe that's because he's doing it for a living now, i don't know. But it seems nobody's allowed to express that otherwise it's “trolling”.

    I'd say the same thing is true for the Nostalgia Critic as well, but for a different reason. I know people will continue to watch the guy no matter what I say (and that's fine), but I think Doug's backed himself into a serious corner by producing WAY too much content. He used to really be about “nostalgia”, but now we're to the point that he's reviewing stuff that next to none of us actually watched anyway.

    In that regard, the appeal is gone. When the audience familiarity of the concept isn't there to begin with, it's not really even nostalgic anymore, it's just ripping on shitty old movies that nobody watched…for being shitty. Garbage Pail kids and My Pet Monster would be a prime example of this. Sure I remember the cards and the dolls, but that doesn't really make the movie nostalgic.

    But see, while I've now expressed these opinions in a manner that is neither trolling nor hateful, I can almost guarantee that on TGWTG's forums I would have either been voted down to the point of being spam, or blocked. And that's sad to me and shows a very childish perception of what it means to have a good “community” of people.

    If we're a group that can't take criticism and always just give mindless support…we're basically just pigs…eating anything that's put in front of us.

    /extremely long rant

  • Megafighter3

    I don't mean to offend, but your argument is kinda silly. Yes, we do have to pay a monthly bill for internet and TV, but do we have to pay it SPECIFICALLY for watching our Spoony videos and Christopher Lloyds? No, we don't. When they say “free entertainment” it means you didn't have to pay anything to watch this video. On the other hand, those who use “free entertainment” as an argument against criticism are DOING IT WRONG! The “free entertainment” argument is meant for bitching against how long it takes for a video to come out, like Deadliest Character or History of Power Rangers. The reviewers work their asses off and you don't pay a cent! You don't have a right to bitch that Linkara hasn't done the Ninja Storm video yet! Sit your ass down and be patient! …Wow, that got away from me there. Anyway, silly argument, but I still love ya, Roses! 😛