Media archeology’s notions still resonate in today’s culture; specially as far as humor is involved. As explained by Rob King in ‘Laughter in an Ungoverned Sphere: Actuality Humor in Early Cinema and Web 2.0’, from the book New Silent Cinema, this trend suggests that technological elements can shape the medium’s content. In this case, what we tend to find funny.
With the arrival of Vine, a platform in which –initially– only videos no longer than seven seconds could be recorded, there has been a considerable shift in the type of humor that appeals to people. As users are forced to fit a sort of ‘narrative’ in only a few seconds, creativity has been boosted in order to make a type of entertainment that would catch the viewer’s attention from start to finish.
But what is truly remarkable of this phenomenon is how it has expanded to other platforms like Youtube. In the ‘I Owe Harrison $70.00’ video, we can see how the same type of humor, that was born due to the limitations of Vine, has made its way elsewhere succesfully, and claimed a position as one of the leading forms of comical entertainment.
Fifty seconds into the video, Gabriel Gundacker has won the spectator’s attention by introducing tense music. Another minute and a half and he delivers an overly dramatic performance that makes the spectator laugh, precisely because of its illogicality.
Unlike films –be them comedies or dramas– where tension has to be built gradually to not lose viewers half-way into the story, this new-found humor allows them to have all that intensity and eventfulness in three minutes –as in Gundacker’s video. This is a type of humor which has been highly dependent on the development of technological platforms for its growth, and that, once again, demonstrates what media archeology had suggested all along: that culture can be shaped by the technology that allows it to exist.