Right. been trying to figure out how to come at this for a few days now (I've been busy). I'll start out by saying that we agree on the bulk of it, it's the marginalia in the corners that's aggravating. Beyond that, since there are a few points we differ on, I think it's most useful to call them out.
1) "Downmarket changes art." You win this one. You're right - Man Ray et al. were definitely doing creative work that has exactly nothing to do with team f/64. In a way, though, I'm not sure that refutes my point. For one thing, the craft that goes into creating one good image is different than the craft that goes into creating a good moving image. The craft exercised by the fine art photographers is in no way lacking (the contemporary art world's fascination with Cindy Sherman being yet another example of why they're all gits). HOWEVER, the exploration of art as posed by the photographers you mention is very different from the "exploration" of art as posed by Freddie Wong, which is "you don't need technique." What's the photo of the dude going down the stairs that someone posted on Flickr and was immediately annihilated? The famous French one whose name I can't remember? It takes a fair amount of technique to capture that image, and the Youtube Crew ain't tryin' for that.
2) SFWPorn Network vs. Peter Lik et. al. Ancillary to the discussion of technique and still v. motion photography, you're right: I can wander out into a corn field, point a Digital Rebel at the sky, Photoshop the results for a day and a half and post the results on Imgur to end up with "fine art grade" landscape photography. It's a royal bitch to do that with a moving image, though. For one thing, your shutter speed is a maximum of 1/24 or so. For another, any image processing must be executed 24 or 30 times for every second of footage. For still another, if you aren't doing abstract photography you're capturing something that exists. Cinematography, on the other hand, is the synthesis of a fantasy environment through the judicial application of lighting and technique. Simply put, you get to "frame fuck" it a lot less, especially if you're attempting to produce it in quantity. Technique and decent tools actually count a lot more in the motion regime because your assets are that much bulkier and your collection thereof is more dependent on x-factors (environment, actors, props, direction, sound, etc). The argument that a $79 prime will get you 90% of the way to a $799 prime is a lot easier to make when your product is an image, rather than six thousand images (a 4-minute 24-frame video).
3) Mapplethorpe vs. Wong. And you're right - Mapplethorpe got the buzz he did because of his homoerotic shit, not his lilies and orchids. And you're right - tastes respond to and push forward the culture they work within. But this is a dangerous comparison to make with Youtube - their advertising rates are going down, their CPM is losing value and what stars they have are attempting to break out of the mold. Meanwhile, all of the big online video deals of late are pointing towards pro content, not amateur content. There's an artifice of approachability that simply doesn't hold up: I shot a campaign for Flip back when Flip still existed and we had a pair of $5k Sachtlers, one with a Flip and the other with an Alexa (for backup, you see). So yeah - technically, Ryan Seacrest did a stand-up in front of a Flip. But practically speaking, a real cinematographer pointed a real camera at a real celebrity and posted a real asset into a real online editing system for finishing in a real color timing system while Flip watched. Even Freddie Wong, bless his black heart, went to Lakeside (same private high school as Bill Gates) and graduated USC - pretty much the bluest blue blood high-dollar film program there is. There's about $250k worth of education (and all the elitist nepotism associated with it) behind his flippancy. Netflix today announced they were breaking off with Epix and focusing more on their own content - and while Orange is the New Black is a shitshow technically, Marco Polo sure wasn't a Freddie Wong production. Which leads to
4) The (non) simplification of narrative. Sure. Red vs. Blue. Yeah, My Drunk Kitchen. Amazon just agreed to pay Jeremy Clarkson $15m a year to appear in "online videos" and this is a guy who helped launch a Reliant Robin on the end of a rocket. House of Cards is $4m per episode. True Detective is all anyone is talking about and it's one mystery per season. See also: every other breakout show of the past 5 years. Narratives are getting increasingly complicated and the real production that's happening belies every fucking thing Freddie Wong says.
Which I recognize erodes my earlier point, namely that the Youtubers are ruining video. The problem is they're eroding the middle: the guys who aspire to be good and don't want to suck. The Freddie Wong approach isn't even "you'll never be great" it's "there is no great" and people who think Lego follow focuses are a great idea (one of my cinematographer buddies calls them "3 chip DV losers") eat it up. Those of us who exist squarely in the middle - where people who can make a competent Youtube video try for long-form - are finding our markets dry up.
'cuz you know what? I'm never going to mix Game of Thrones. And Freddie Wong?
he doesn't think you need a mixer.