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Focusing the Unfocusable?
What really remains to be seen is if the actual sensibility of rando Internet culture can or even should be translated to regular TV. HBO did try to keep the scattershot randomness of Funny or Die intact when developing their late-night sketch show, but I don't know anyone that was passionate about the result. (A few truly inspired short films by Tim and Eric aside.) The problem with boiling a Darwinian get clicks or go home mission statement into a producer-curated sketch show is that you miss the surprising popularity of things no one thought would work in the first place. Of course, the original problem with that, was that popularity eventually skewed overwhelmingly towards goofy shorts from well-known actors. In attempting to remove gatekeepers, we end up gatekeeping ourselves just fine.
No one is accusing the wild, freeform sprawl that is Reddit of having that problem. It's maybe the purest form out there of human interest dictating its own featured content, for good or ill. The announcement earlier this year that the site would start generating its own original web videos, based on the widely viewed forum topic "Explain Like I'm Five" probably had a few network execs dreaming about tapping into that teeming online readership, fleshing it out into a broadcast-able vehicle. But there'd be no way to ape the feel of Reddit for reals on television, at least until a TV really becomes a simultaneous user-directed web device.
The Vice HBO project seems like a case where focus could be a good thing, letting only the best of their news/stunt/prank/gonzo video content reach a bigger audience who haven't been beat over the head with what they do for almost 10 years now. But is making these guys our 60 Minutes an answer to stagnant TV formats, or just new voices getting gradually co-opted by old structures? To answer that, I suppose we'll have to tune in.