As YouTube and other digital media move beyond computer-savvy young people into the ranks of even stodgy businessmen, these subversive outlets become serious problems for the ruling elite. This trend is epitomized by the radical change in the Federal Reserve's image.
In just a few short years, the Fed has transformed in public opinion from a mysterious, wise, and boring institution into a fascinating engine of corruption and comedy.
The chinks in the Fed's armor of legitimacy are multiplying, all made possible by the ease of producing and distributing high-quality critiques. An early example was the spoof of The Police's "Every Breath You Take" that Columbia Business School students made in "honor" of Ben Bernanke's ascent to Fed chairman over their own dean, Glenn Hubbard.
It's true, the satirical music video really wasn't a critique of Bernanke's policies; after all, he had only just been given the keys to the printing press. Nonetheless, it illustrated the new power of the Internet. Creating the video took a lot of effort, and it would probably not have been worth doing had the students only been able to distribute it through, say, copying it on VHS cassettes.
At the same time, although the potential market — people who would have appreciated geeky references to "bips" (basis points) and the like — was substantial, it was dispersed throughout the population. Saturday Night Live certainly wouldn't have run such a video, and even higher-brow shows such as Bill Maher's wouldn't have done it either, simply because the niche was too limited.