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Cathleen Kaveny May 7, 2009 - 9:01pm
If you're looking for some positive way to communicate the Gospel of Life, it seems to me this video is a good place to start. I defy you to watch this and not smile.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P6UU6m3cqk[/youtube]
That's great! I love it. I just took a break from writing a presentation that I will deliver at a diocesan catechetical event on Monday about faith and social media.... I think this might be on deck as for how to use video to communicate.
Lucky kid. When I did stuff like that to my boys, they would get the hiccups for the next two hours; either that, or they'd puke.
But, yes, I most certainly smiled at this video (and when my boys puked).
Oh that it would last a whole life through! Such simplicity. Such innocence. Such joy.
And the "culture of death:"http://www.slate.com/id/2189281/I'm generally not shocked by pop culture=but this shocked me.
I smiled, several times. But I find something a little "off" about the popularity of this video. The baby is laughing in response to a cue: a communal event, no doubt. But isn't he a little bit too....trained?I should mention that one of my personal anathemas is the phenomenon of "cute" child actors. It's hard to name one adorable famous kid who didn't fall apart completely the moment the adulation stopped.My basic problem is probably this: human beings are complex, and free. And yet the masses can only usually delight in certain rather programmable attributes. So there can be a real loss of the personal and the deep when these attributes become the focus of widespread attention.
Too trained? When my son was that age, he would laugh in exactly the same way if you pounded on a can of coffee beans, as I found out by accident one day. Some kids are just jovial that way.
I just had a ten minute conversation with a four year old. He's adorable, yes, but completely unpredictable.While we were talking his little brother hit me on the leg at random intervals. Their little sister said something unitelligible from time to time. Mostly those two walked around and around.
Cathy - I can't remember where I read it, but I once saw someone describe comments on YouTube as "the lowest form of human communication." Pretty accurate, in my experience. Makes you grateful for dotComm, doesn't it? (Not that I wasn't grateful already.)
A trained baby strikes me as an oxymoron. In the past 13 years, mine has continued to show a good deal of resistance to training of any kind, but, then, I've only got the one, and I make no claim to having any natural affinity for parenting.I do have a low tolerance for doting, on my own kid or other people's children, and this clip exceeds my limit by about 60 seconds.I'm generally not interested in more than a passing acquaintanceship with people who show me more than four pictures of their kid at any one sitting, or who insist that I witness its cuteness or new skill more than once per visit. Those parents who want me to witness potty training in progress are generally not revisited.
I enjoyed the conclusion of the Slate article Cathy linked to above:There are those who complain that Laughing Baby is a pointless waste of time, while others respond that happiness is made up of small, simple pleasures like the laughter of a little boy. It's a debate that speaks to the essence of YouTube itself. Do these little video distractions buoy our spirits and connect us to our fellow humans, or are we frittering away our time and talents with two-minute diversions? Do we laugh at the Laughing Baby, or is the Laughing Baby laughing at us?
Oh well. I suppose every silver lining has a cloud
Well. . . if I'm going to be analytical, . . .1. In the South Park video, the laughing baby was the only contender for youtube dominance that wasn't killed. That counts as a compliment, in Southparkese.2. I think we're laughing with the laughing baby --not at him or being laughed at by him. And that's why I think he's so popular. Laughter is human, and it's contagious. And to see a big, belly laugh out of such a tiny boy--well, that is quite amazing. 3. I guess I don't see this as an obnoxious, bragging parent, or a trick. I just see it as something normal, and human, that happened to be caught in a three minute video.
At the risk of becoming a garrulous blogger -- who would have thought?Thank you, Cathleen, for your analysis. It works for me.A good Sunday to all!
The problem with YouTube is that there's no context for these clips, so we tend to make context out of our own life experiences and prejudices.John Page sees unadulterated joy. I see an obsessive parent watching his kid grow up behind the viewfinder of a video camera.Says more about John and me, perhaps, than about the baby or his parents, and I think I'd come out on the wrong end of that stick if I analyzed my response further.So I'll shut up now.
Now the comment thread - for the YouTube and this post, become part of my presentation and not just the laughing baby himself. I am left wondering why some people can't just enjoy the laughing baby, the beautiful life force and joy of this child - which is what I think Cathleen was trying to put forth in the first place.
If it provides any perspective on my criticisms, I usually don't think Mozart is joyful, either.
Hello All,This video has indeed taken off like wildfire. Some of my students were watching it on their computers before we did our final presentations this afternoon.I wonder if the popularity of this video is simply due to timing. I agree it's wonderful, but I don't think what's filmed here is unusual. For instance, when my my nephew was this age he would laugh just as loudly and long when he saw adults fold clothing.Then again, perhaps it does not matter why this video is so wildly popular. It's just refreshing to see something like this take off.
Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.
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