Update on January 2: Due to an editing error, some video picks were not included in the original posting of the article. Submitted for your viewing pleasure are three new selections:
reason senior editor
I'm nominate the lot of police brutality and taser videos. The most popular this year were probably the "Don't Tase Me, Bro" video from a John Kerry event in Florida (see below) and a Missouri teenager's recording of an abusive police officer who had pulled him over. The genre as a whole is the result of the mass democratization of technology, and represents an important shift toward transparency and accountability in law enforcement. More than a few abusive police officers have lost their jobs after a video went viral, which likely wouldn't have happened were we still in the pre-Internet age. Mass watching of the watchers is a good thing, and we ought to be encouraging more of it, both to weed out bad cops, and to protect the good ones from frivolous claims of abuse.
reason science correspondent
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' weekly television talk show, Alo Presidente, infamously runs on for hours. In September, 2007 viewers were treated to more than eight hours of presidential bloviation. Chavez' hero, the notoriously long-winded Fidel Castro, has never even gotten close to that record.
In November at the Ibero-American Summit, Spain's King Juan Carlos told Chavez, "Why don't you just shut up!" Juan Carlos' words have been turned into a popular ring tone. I nominate it as the "best" video of 2007 because it was way past time that someone told Chavez to just zip it.
I continue to laugh every time I watch the meeting of minds between singer-songwriter John Mayer and Justin Long (the Apple Computer guy) outside an L.A. nightclub. Mayer–drunk on booze or maybe just strict construction of the Constitution?–goes on a pro-Ron Paul rant that is magical not just for its intensity and heartfeltness but for its very existence in the first place. Years ago in reason, we excerpted Tyler Cowen's What Price Fame?, a study in how contemporary celebrities are impotent puppets we pay astronomical amounts to entertain us (Cowen's piece is not, alas, online). This is true, even when we agree with them. It's a great world where this sort of footage is widely available.