Recently, Joel Hodgson is on Kickstarter raising money to create a new season of Mystery Science Theater 3000. This has come about due to a growing rise to the former series, including the special “Turkey Day” celebration they had last year from Shout Factory. The Turkey Day events are nothing new, Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuted on Thanksgiving, and quite frankly has always had some involvement on Thanksgiving.
But one of my most vivid memories actually came around the mid 2000s. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was off the air for good, not even reruns were broadcast on Sci-Fi. YouTube has yet become the powerhouse it was, and the only way to really watch it was through Kazaa or your torrent website of choice, but as a person who spent “:10bux:” to browse and post on a message board, I found a better solution – GBStv.
GBStv or “Goon Broadcasting System Television” was a play of the General Bullshit forums of Something Awful. It was a broadcast streaming website that allowed users of Something Awful to not only upload, but request videos to be broadcasted next on the network. Episodes of “Mega 64”, would clash alongside AMV Hell, as well as episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and actual in-house shows made for the channel.
It was probably one of the most sketchiest if you think about the copyright infringement, but it was also one of the biggest examples of Crowd-focused programming that has not returned even to this day. Sure, you have websites that would let you broadcast youtube videos in-sync with your friends. but rarely one that was going on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with a commitment to airing the weirdest videos available. It was where I actually remembered watching Rejected and immediately afterwards was some Windows Movie Maker videos of people smashing stuff with a hammer.
The server bills must’ve been expensive as well as the process in which to upload videos, to repeat, YouTube barely existed. But this was the website that got people a glimpse into “Bill Fillmaff’s Secret System” besides going to IGN. But what I felt made it such a unique idea was that everybody was in control of what aired, it could be something good, something bad, or just something weird, and you were in control of getting rid of it at any time.
Like a television channel, they had special live events, but unlike a television channel, everybody could be the executive in charge of putting up anything. Speed Runs were put on next to Aquabats Music Videos, and if you were bored with either, you could just upload or rate any of the shows involved. As off-the-wall and zany most livestreams can try to be, and as presenter-heavy as a regular person on Twitch is when it came to playing games. Nobody and Nothing can really capture the kind of irrelevance Something Awful Goons came up with, like WTF Chuck.
While the internet does make us stupid, and there are a few liveshows that are very unique, you rarely saw the equivalent of a public-access channel, a blank canvas for the weird, and the antithesis of internet media until GBS showed up. Sure, you had places like Loading Ready-Run and even the Angry Video Game Nerd beginning their webseries and webshows, but GBStv was the kind of service that was the fast-moving “if you liked this weird stuff, here’s some more weird stuff” that somehow always kept being interesting, until the ultimate slowdown in 2010.