Let That Camera Roll

banana peel

flashback fridayIn our modern world of YouTube and ever-present social media, anyone can literally become a pseudo-celebrity overnight.  The most ridiculous videos can quickly become viral as they get passed on from friend to friend like a bad case of syphilis.  When Andy Warhol predicted that everyone in the future would have 15 minutes of fame, he no doubt knew that Al Gore was going to one day invent the internet.

You, baby dancing to "Single Ladies", are going to be famous thanks to me!

You, baby dancing to “Single Ladies”, are going to be famous thanks to me!

But there was once a day when YouTube and Facebook didn’t exist…. and it was good.  Well, unless you wanted to become famous without having to hit the casting couch.  Heck, even making videos of something was much harder in the 80’s than it is today.  It required lugging one of these things around…

Slightly heavier than your typical smartphone.

Slightly heavier than your typical smartphone.

The technology to make home movies has been around for over half a century, but it wasn’t until the camcorder revolution of the late 80’s that video recording devices became commonly found in average homes across America.  My family, being poor, didn’t get in on this fun until 1992… and that was three years after the television show that made the camcorder a must-have for every family with dreams of fame and dollar signs in their eyes made it’s debut…

America’s Funniest Home Videos debuted on the ABC Network on November 26, 1989, and became a regular series beginning the following January.  It not only had a most excellent theme song and intro montage (Back when TV shows actually gave a crap about putting together a quality theme song and introduction), but it was a prehistoric venue for the viral video in an era when a lot of people still didn’t have computers.  ABC got the idea to borrow Bob Saget from his “Full House” duties long enough each week to showcase silly amateur home videos viewers would send in… and the people loved it!

November 19, 198-whatever... a day that will live in infamy for these two boys.

November 19, 198-whatever… a day that will live in infamy for these two boys.

These days, television producers go to great lengths to carefully script, stage and edit programs that pass for “reality television”.  America’s Funniest Home Videos, however, was reality TV in its purest form… a collection of unscripted videotaped pratfalls, quirky cuteness, and goofballs that entertained us quite well in an era when our video entertainment options consisted of about 40 channels and a VCR.  Who would have guessed that some of the best stuff to air on television didn’t have to first go through overpaid executives, tasteless producers, and a test audience of the desired demographic to make people laugh?

Are you trying to say I'm not needed here?

Are you trying to say I’m not needed here?

Of course, one of the big draws AFHV had was not just the chance to embarrass your kids on national television, but the fact that on each show, the featured videos had a chance to compete for one of three cash prizes.  Three videos were chosen by the show’s producers at the end of each episode to be voted on by the audience, with the winning video getting a $10,000 cash prize and a shot at the $100,000 contest held each season.  The people who submitted the three chosen videos were invited onto the show and introduced, which always gave the impression back in my naive days of the show being rigged.

Not that it wasn't... the damn cute babies won EVERY TIME!!!!

Not that it wasn’t… the damn cute babies won EVERY TIME!!!!

Of course, as the show became more and more popular, and the thought of being able to win money just by looking like a dumbass became more and more realistic, some devious people began submitting videos of their fails that were quite obviously intentional.  Soon, AFHV was full of some of the worst acting outside of a B horror movie that would even put someone trying to commit insurance fraud by purposely slipping in a puddle of water in the middle of Mecca look like an Academy Award winner…

Help!  I've fallen, and I can't reach my attorney!!!

Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t reach my attorney!!!

Eventually, as the home video clips began to get more and more ridiculous, America’s Funniest Home Videos began losing its initial appeal of fun loving innocence, and started looking more and more like the scripted faux-reality BS that would plague the airwaves in the 21st century.  Even Bob Saget got tired of the show after the first few seasons… and he somehow tolerated the Olsen twins and Dave Coulier all those years on Full House.  For much of the late 90’s, AFHV was an on again, off again series on ABC before somehow being revived and going on strong for the last 13 years now with Tom Bergeron as host.  How a show of this format can continue to exist in an age when crazy cat videos are being posted and reposted on walls every day is beyond me… but then again, maybe Bergeron is some kind of mysterious television genius with the magical ability to make anything look good on TV.  After all, he also hosts a wildly popular show that features celebrities nobody has ever heard of learning how to dance with as little clothes on as possible

Tom Bergeron may have even been able to salvage "Cop Rock"...

Tom Bergeron may have even been able to salvage “Cop Rock”…

There is nothing more charming, nostalgic, and embarrassing than our very own home videos we made ourselves to cherish forever… and here at The Nest, we would like to give a huge 6 hour EP VHS salute to Vin DiBona and the people at ABC who brought these grainy, date inscribed masterpieces into our homes every week to the amusement of us viewers, and to the shame of its stars.  Not since The Three Stooges was slapstick comedy ever so funny.. whether it was Uncle Earl falling onto the barbecue grill while drunk, Baby Emily enjoying a fresh serving of doggie poo, or dear old Dad getting speared in the nuts by a lawn dart.  Thank you for making stars out of the common people for the mere price of a red face and a few broken bones, and we strive even in these more technologically advanced days to keep recording those memories we’d much rather repress.  As Bob Saget would say in conclusion… keep those cameras safely rolling!

Keep at it, you naughty possums!  I practically have the $10,000 in my bank account already!

Keep at it, you naughty possums! I practically have the $10,000 in my bank account already!

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About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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24 Responses to Let That Camera Roll

  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    I remember the first episode of AFHV. The “winner” was a woman whose husband took video of when she got stuck while cleaning the dishwasher (her hair got caught on something).

    I always love “You Can’t Do That On Television” references. 🙂

  2. PigLove says:

    Oh snorts – love that last picture. We have watched AFHV here at the Hotel Thompson from time to time. Someone actually told mom/dad they should video tape my antics and send it in. I stomped my hoof down and said no. What happens at the Hotel Thompson should stay at the Hotel Thompson… well at least in some type of video form XOXO – Bacon

    • $10,000 would buy an awful lot of piggy treats…. 😉

      • PigLove says:

        Eyebrows up – You do have a point there. I could have my bedroom made over by a specialist in the field. I have an entire room to do – possibly upgrade to a new bed – double size, window treatments, flooring and maybe one of those indoor water thingies. Oh the possibilities. XOXO – Bacon

  3. Lynda says:

    I haven’t watched in years, and I still don’t own a video recorder. 😉
    PS: PigLove is right, that last photo is adorable!

  4. Twindaddy says:

    I used to love this show. You can just visit YouTube for this stuph now.

  5. The Cutter says:

    I remember when AFHV was actually #1 in the ratings one week. #1! I was too young for the water cooler in those days, but it was certainly a very talked about topic at school.

    Nowadays, if you’ve seen one father accidentally nailed in the crotch by his son swinging a baseball bat, you’ve seen ’em all.

    • It seemed like a huge deal its first couple seasons, but like everything original that becomes a success, it inspired way too many copycat shows. And now You Tube is full of this crap…

  6. pishnguyen says:

    Ah … I loved AFHV back when it first started. I remember watching those videos and laughing and laughing. Good times. I had no idea the show was still on the air. That is weirdly bizarre … and yet, somehow, it helps the universe make a little more sense. 😀

  7. draliman says:

    We never had that programme in the UK but we had something similar. Just as you mentioned with AFHV, after a few years it began to get obvious that people were staging the incidents (I think every video shown won £100, because we spend big here in the UK).

    • One of the AFHV copycat programs that I actually liked worked on that principle. It was called Roggin’s Heroes, hosted by a sportscaster out of Los Angeles named Fred Roggin. If your video made the show, you got paid. It was AFHV with more of a sense of humor. He also did a tribute each show to the obvious fakes he received

  8. merbear74 says:

    Loved that show, though Bob was annoying as hell. I had a dream you were on Facebook!

  9. A lot has happened quickly. Were you around for candid camera? People are completely different when they see a camera now. They used to look quite startled. 🙂

  10. Yeah, after the first season you know they were rigging stuff. Zomg, grandpa’s pants just happened to fall down while dancing at the wedding! You could just see the Dad with the camera – “Hey, son, fall out of the tree! It’s 10,000 dollars here!”

    The few you could tell probably weren’t rigged were the ones with the babies and the animals, because it’d difficult to stage that unless you’re a professional dog or baby trainer. I always thought the worst videos won.

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