Around the World in 80 Clicks

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Trawling YouTube is a weekly look at one interesting story or oddity from YouTube. You ever go down a YouTube rabbit hole and suddenly you’ve wasted five hours watching every Madonna video? This is about those rabbit holes, but the comedy-related ones.

Mp3s from Napster. Movie torrents from The Pirate Bay. TV shows streaming on europeTVlinksMEGA.tv.

These are the major options when you want to do a little media sampling and your debit card is allll the way across the room. But to limit yourself to this paltry selection is to miss out on an entire new and exciting world of intellectual property theft!

For example, have you ever wanted to check out that new contemporary painting installation at MoMA but don’t have the $25? Well not to worry. Some guy already went with a camera and recorded it all (and a bunch of stream of consciousness rambling):

It’s like, you always want to leave a museum after 20 minutes anyways. Why not just watch this 20 minute video of one? While listening to this guy make sarcastic comments about the art the whole time? It’s almost enough to make you wonder why he would bother to make and upload this video. But he did for some reason!

And unsurprisingly, he’s not the only one. It turns out pretty much any visual experience you can pay for, anywhere in the developed world, you can find for free online. Here is a walking tour of the Louvre (total savings: €15 admission, $1,000 plane ticket):

Or there are also whole other genres of tours, like walking tours of major cities. The following video, by Andy of “Andy’s Awesome Adventures,” is of one such tour, and it is possibly one of the silliest things I can imagine:

Note that Andy is ostensibly “hosting” this video, except what he’s really doing is pirating this dude’s (nine hour!!!!) NYC walking tour. This is straight up taking a video camera into a movie theater! Bobby’s going to lose all his customers because they can just catch his facts about New York history on YouTube! They don’t have to pay $139 or walk around for nine hours to learn that Central Park was actually designed to keep you lost in there. Or that the Astors gave up their seats in a lifeboat and voluntarily drowned on the Titanic. (The old couple in the movie is based on them!)

But I did enjoy watching this in particular because I do live in New York, and therefore don’t know anything about any of the major tourist locations. Why would I ever go? Nobody does that. It’s what I like to call the Statue of Liberty Paradox.

Los Angelenos may know it as the Homes of the Movie Stars Paradox. If you live in L.A., there’s really no excuse to go on one of those tours unless you’re making fun of it for a Funny or Die video or something. But no longer!

I present: a full Homes of the Movie Stars tour condensed into one 22 minute video, complete with vague accent and creepy private van:

Now I know the stereotype of Americans: we never travel. Well that may be true. But I’ve been doing a shitload of virtual traveling lately, and my horizons have been just as expanded just as far as some jerk who took a year off to backpack across Europe.

For example, this 26-minute travelogue answered many of my questions about what it might be like to travel to Amsterdam:

And here is a walking tour of Edinburgh, Scotland, narrated by a college guy who just finished eating some Subway (on top of a garbage can it looks like):

I highly recommend listening to this guy’s entire dopey narration. He’s great.

Also, this is another one where it’s basically a guy pirating a tour guide’s walking tour. This guide is an Australian guy who visited Scotland once and enjoyed it so much he wanted to stay and become a tour guide. (Yeah, sure.) But he has his own spiel for all of these tour groups, as do all of these walking tour guides. If you really want to think of these in terms of comedy, what these guides are doing is almost like a crazy aggressive style of standup. They have to get to all these points that they have memorized, they have to play off this live audience, and they have to hold the audience’s attention, etc. The big difference, though, is the audience in these tours is supposed to not be paying attention to you. The only reason they’re there is to look at the buildings and stuff. Our Scotland Subway dude even spends a significant portion of that video looking (through his camera) at Google Maps on his phone. Lol.

And here is a similar tour of Berlin, narrated by “Tom”. (Tom is a man of few words, but his choices of editing transitions speak volumes.)

YouTube user Rosa Steffensen, on the other hand, throws basically every production trick in the book at her 2011 film Europe 2011: Berlin via Amsterdam. (You know how reading someone else’s text messages is boring if they’re making you read them, but really interesting if you don’t know who they are? Same with watching vacation videos.):

And here is a nice tour of the back streets of Venice, compliments of some random guy walking around with a video camera and talking to himself. It’s just like the 1974 off-season-in-Venice thriller classic Don’t Look Now starring Donald Sutherland!

There are enough of these videos shot/narrated (in English) by a tour guide to last days. But on top of that there are way more that are just people with video cameras walking around major cities. Here’s one of Tokyo at night:

Here’s one of a boat tour in Amsterdam:

Here’s one of Ho Chi Minh City:

And here’s the user page of the YouTube user who makes these, keez Colijn, who describes them as “uncut, real life slow television.”

Watching these, I realized, is almost kind of like watching video from the Google Street View car. Which makes me kind of wonder, once Google has gathered enough visual data on all these cities to create an accurate 3D Content ID (???), will cities ever be copyrightable? Like, that video of Venice would contain the Venice 3D Content ID, which can be detected and the video automatically taken down by the Italian government, e.g. Like YouTube automatically detects content that is the property of Atlantic Records based on that content ID. That’ll be really fun, won’t it?

At any rate, that’s already a ton of virtual travel. But if there remains any question as to whether this can expand your perspective on humanity like actual travel can, consider this real walking tour of the Forbidden Purple City in Vietnam:

…in which we actually hear the narrator have the realization that, “So wait, in Vietnam, they must have called the Vietnam War…The American War…”

Whoa…in Vietnam they call the Vietnam War the “American War.” Ultimate perspective achievement unlocked. You are now truly a citizen of the world.

What a time to be alive, folks. Twenty years ago, this would all take years of traveling and thousands of dollars. But now you can experience it all while taking a crap.

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