Something inherent about internet phenomena is that they are completely unpredictable. It’s impossible to gauge when something like lolcats or Susan Boyle is going to become a viral hit-or how long it will remain a hit. In Manjoo’s article, he points out that lolcats didn’t instantly become popular, then fade. Its popularity has only grown. Yet the basis of the site is extremely elementary and kind of ridiculous, and I think the people who read it know that, but they love it anyway.
Which raises the question: are internet phenomena a good judge of what people genuinely like? Unlike people’s TV preferences, which are limited to what is actually produced and how many people watch it, websites can be made by anyone and don’t need a large fan base to exist. Consequently, they can start out small and explode into popularity. Or things from TV (like Susan Boyle) can become even more popular online. This kind of ties back into the machinima readings. If it’s the amateurs that know what people really like, then mainstream might be shifting towards incorporating more work from amateurs than from actual professionals.
There are definitely dangers that come with this. Like Bergeron says in his article, this kind of instant fame can make and break a person. The popularity that comes with it isn’t lasting, like the popularity that comes from more seriously invested-in movies and TV shows (think the Sopranos or Titanic). But I don’t think it poses a real threat to quality media. People might be crazy about the latest YouTube video or website, but will always want quality movies and TV. I think the danger is more for those experiencing the 5-minute fame than the state of media itself.