Hey there, you! It's been, what, a year? I don't think I've seen You since we named You Person of the Year 2006. What did we praise You for again? Oh, right: "for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game." Remember? You wrote about it on Your blog! We cornered the world market in reflective film for all those mirror covers! Good times, those. Hey, You've lost weight, haven't You?
So I see You've been flipping through this issue. Ahem. This is a little awkward. Well, as You can see, we ... we went in another direction this year. Please don't take it personally. We still love You. But let's face it: You had kind of an off year. It's not like You ran for President or anything. O.K., a few of You did, but to be fair, Rudy was already Person of the Year once.
Don't get me wrong: all the things that made You You in 2006 are still there. All year long, You were YouTubing, Facebooking, Twittering, chronicling Your life and community, scrutinizing the candidates and the media, videotaping Yourself getting upset on behalf of Britney Spears.
But who made the big noise in the Web 2.0 world this year? It was Them. The professionals, the old-media people, the moneymen all of Them, conscious that there was profit in Your little labor-of-love socialist paradise. Story of Your life, right? You make the discoveries, They make the Benjamins.
So if 2006 was the year of You, 2007 was the year of Them. Big media companies (like this one) stuffed their sites with blogs, podcasts and video.
Celebrities became Web entrepreneurs. Hillary Clinton made a Sopranos-parody viral video. In 2006 the Web was a proving ground where new musicians could take their art directly to the public. And maybe it still is, but what band struck it big selling its new album online this year? A little undiscovered combo called Radiohead. Meanwhile, Will Ferrell launched funnyordie.com, where he posted comedy videos starring himself and celebrities like Bill Murray. Because, You know, Ferrell's comic vision is just too avant-garde for mainstream Hollywood.
The list goes on. Last year You gave us lonelygirl15, the cult-hit, independent online video series. In 2007, NBC bought an original online series and made it the first of its kind to air on broadcast television but the show, quarterlife, was created by a couple of Them: Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, producers of classic TV shows thirtysomething and My So-Called Life. It debuts on NBC in February. I hope You're getting a piece of that action.
Because that's what it was about in '07: getting a piece. Last year You shared the POY package with the founders of YouTube. This year Viacom sued YouTube for hosting its content posted by You, fans of Viacom shows like The Daily Show, who wanted to celebrate and engage with your favorite programs. When the TV and movie screenwriters walked off the job, they grabbed pens and cameras and used the Web to end-around the old-content distributors and take their case directly to the public. Very You-school. But this was still about one set of Them (pro writers) fighting an even richer set of Them (media moguls) over the money to be made by moving in on Your territory, online video.
Maybe what really happened in 2007 was not that They took over from You but that the boundaries between You and Them blurred. In some cases, You became one of Them, by cashing in on old-media celebrity. In 2007 MySpace pinup and recording star Tila Tequila, profiled in last year's POY issue, made A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, a bisexual dating show that was MTV's most popular new show of the year. Perez Hilton went from online gossip renegade to VH1 host. Chris Crocker, of the notorious leave-Britney-alone video, signed a deal for a reality show.
And then there's 2008. The election is shaping up to be a delicate act of power sharing between You and Them. On the one hand, They've tried to keep control: CNN political comic relief: Obama Girl, the global-warming snowman video. On the other hand, You raised $4 million in one day for Ron Paul and freelanced that brilliant "1984" parody ad against Hillary on behalf of Barack Obama. You seem determined to go into 2008 not as a follower but as a player. (Although: Hillary invited You to help pick her campaign theme song on her website, and You went with Celine Dion? Dude.)
Of course, all this assumes You define success in Their terms: signing contracts, getting paid, making the cover of this magazine. Fact is, You're probably just as glad to take off that POY 2006 tiara and go back to dreaming up the future and getting recognized for it, much later, by the rest of us. It's still Your world, after all. They just pretend to run it.
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