The vast majority of my YouTube collection is made up of random ads. I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about most of them; I’ve just placed them there because I found them on old VHS tapes and want to preserve them for posterity in a new format. I realize the impulse to do this is perhaps a form of OCD, autism, or full-blown mental illness.
However, in so doing, I’ve found that there are people out there people who even more trainspotty than me, folks who can recall exactly what aired when on TV throughout the ages, right down to all the ads, and are very eager to tell me in the comments (especially if I’ve gotten some detail wrong). For some reason, this is particularly true for local news ads/clips. Perhaps because the personalities from local news usually endure longer than those seen in national ad campaigns, or they evoke a sense of community. It’s also possible these folks are just bonkers.
Here’s an example: A promo for CBS-2 news with a “health” bent, followed by a comment from someone who knows exactly where some of the footage originated.
The same commenter made another appearance on another news-related YouTube video of mine. This was a montage of terrifying local news teasers from the 1980s, but this commenter was still able to isolate one moment in the video and not only identify the source, but tell me when it aired.
As a bonus, here’s what another wag had to say about this video.
UPDATE, 12.16.09: Video now working. Thanks for your patience.
I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating: I was scarred for life by the news teasers I saw as a kid. There are two reasons for this.
1) I grew up in New York in the 1980s. In these post-Giuliani’s reich years, it’s hard to remember just how truly effed up NYC was in the 80s. The city was beset by all manner of horrifying things–drugs, murder, arson, poverty, Ed Koch…
2) The 1980s also marked the beginning of SCARE NEWS. Local stations couldn’t just entice you with actual news. They did SPECIAL REPORTS and INVESTIGATIONS on how everything in your house could murder you in your sleep.
The combination of these two phenomena made watching TV as a kid an exercise in terror. In my memories, the news was even worse during the holidays. Every news clip took place in a driving snowstorm, with squad car lights glinting off dirty road ice, and included at least three of the following:
A crumbling tenement stairwell
Cops draping a white sheet across a dead body
Blood spattered on wall/floor/window
A front door blackened by fire/explosion
Close up of a crack vial
Victim’s screaming relatives
Charred children’s toys
A sketch of the alleged perpetrator, making him look like maniac
If you weren’t there, it’s hard to convey just how frightening it was. But thanks to the Vast and Dusty Scratchbomb VHS Archives, I’ve compiled a bunch of these teasers into one handy-dandy YouTube clip.
Most of these are from CBS-2, but they’re pretty representative of news teasers for all local NYC stations back in the 1980s. Keep in mind, all of these teasers–all of them–aired during holiday specials intended for kids. “Manhunt in progress for the man police call The Face-Peeling Rapist. Is he in your town? We’ll tell you at 11. But now, back to A Charlie Brown Christmas!”