The strange new world of ShoeTube

A two-paragraph story in my morning paper caught my eye.

“Man Caught Secretly Videotaping Women’s Feet At UC Santa Cruz.”

You can read a version of the story on the KTVU website. Apparently a man had roamed around on two separate occasions grabbing footage (ahem) of women’s feet. My morning paper said he was searched but released, as foot photography is not against the law in California — yet.


Why does this fascinate me? You could chalk it up to shallowness, but I’m also teaching a newswriting class and just the other night we discussed news judgment. These are criteria such as timeliness, proximity and prominence that command attention. I think the ultimate news appeal is strange. How strange we only beginning to become aware.



I think about this when I see folks downloading and sharing silly videos. Of course there are many earnest videographers out there risking life and limb to bring back realistic footage of important events. And some good may come of that. But I say that out of faith and not observation.

I found a list of top YouTube videos in the Sydney Morning Herald. The number 10-ranked vlogger was Lazydork who, we are told, “left his job as a prosecuting attorney in Miami and moved to Las Vegas where he’s now a professional poker player” (why study math and science, boys and girls, when you can spin the wheel of fame and fortune?).

I feel vindicated when Lazydork told the Herald:

“The better stuff I turn out, the less viewers I get,” he laments, and the paper added, “His observation will resonate with the many online auteurs who say that under the YouTube model, junk often trumps quality.”

There is a mind-relaxing quality to video, the sillier the better. We like to laugh at others. It’s the quickest way in the world to puff ourselves up. Groucho Marx belittled guests on You Bet Your Life. Allen Funt made a career out of filming not merely feet, but whole people tricked into revealing situations on Candid Camera. Today we enjoy watching those who do not become an American Idol.

Now millions of people have video cameras. Millions of imaginations competing for billions of eyeballs. Feet are just the start.