His point, which predated You Tube's sneezing pandas and dancing babies by at least 10 years, was that the most popular entertainment is often the safest. Which doesn't make it bad or wrong or awful. It's just not cutting edge.
It's something to keep in mind as we move deeper into a world of democratized content, one where consumers are their own editors and make the call as to what gets passed on. Because consumers -- the mass of them -- are about as risk averse as they come. They pass on fart jokes, cute animals and videos made by people who are already famous. Why? Because it's safe; no one will fault them for posting a leering squirrel video to Facebook. We play it safe in our roles as citizen editors precisely because it's not our day job; we get no reward for passing on something new or risky or fresh.
That reality (and I am far from the first to comment on it) was brought home the other day as I watched Ashton Kutcher's presentation during Advertising Week, where he talked about his web production company Katalyst. He showed some videos he'd done that had been passed around hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of times. They were well-crafted and entertaining, but nothing was exactly cutting edge. As I watched the crowd nod along, it hit me that here was a wide-open opportunity for marketers.
You see, beyond Kutcher and his mass-market clients, there's a world of niche brands whose consumers would welcome the sort of outside-the-mainstream content they're not getting from their social graphs. (And by "content," I mean anything from a web series to three-minute videos to short stories to podcasts to slideshows -- something people read, watch, listen to or look at for their own enjoyment and want to pass on to their friends.)