EPISODE 2: YouTube
Alright round two of me tackling this entry. Don’t worry, I ain’t mad. Just needed refinement.
Like the entire YouTube platform.
This one’s kind of gonna be a three-part-er, solely for the fact that I’d like to cover a few things on this monster of a topic:
The platform itself, which I will not actually be going into because it’s a mess and I’m too unqualified (read: Tired) to really weigh in on it in non-emotional, non-“this shit’s f*&^ing stupid”, terms.
Let’s Player YouTubers and their impact on me.
Non-Let’s Player YouTubers and their impact on me.
I gave this one the umbrella title “YouTube” because, overall, the platform itself has followed me throughout the majority of my fandom life both as a vehicle for other fandoms to thrive and a source of fandom itself.
Regarding the platform itself. It’s a mess nowadays. YouTube comments are garbage. YouTube algorithms are dumb. YouTube as a company deletes views for some reason. YouTubers that I watch have shown disdain for the company, and oof. I do not think it’s gotten any better. If you’d like a pretty general description and ethics discussion of the platform, honestly, I recommend checking out Episode 29 of The Tablo Podcast. He talks about the trends and issues of the platform and content creators today, as well as discusses the drama of child viewers from a parent’s perspective. (His daughter is incredible. We love Haru.)
In my previous draft of this Self-Doc, I’d started a whole mini-rant about parents paying attention to their children’s interests. Don’t really know where else it’ll fit or how to best segue but here you go:
Jesus, I just remembered the increasing frequency of kids watching YouTube unmonitored by their parents. I work at a summer camp every year and I couldn’t even count the number of kids watching people like James Charles on their iPads.
First of all, iPads? C’mon. It’s a summer camp.
Second of all. Parents need to care about what their kids watch. Do some research, maybe. Put effort into your kids’ interests and make sure they’re not going down a problematic path. And if they are... educate them on why you think the content they're viewing isn't appropriate. (And listen to them if they have a counterargument. But that's getting into a parenting debate and I don't have kids, so I can't really have too much of an opinion, so anyway.) YouTube isn’t a safe space anymore—there’s loads of bad shit on there—but maybe if you just talk to your kids—
And then I felt too preachy so I stopped. Really, though, that’s that on that. I could dredge up more discourse on it but. I don’t think here’s the place, y’know?
Let’s move on to the actual content of the site. There is definitely a difference between being into the platform and being into the content. It’s like… being into a band’s music but not its music label, loving a book series but not having an interest in the publishing house or publishing/writing in general. It’s an interest in the end product, not the behind the scenes or industry behind it.
And that’s how it started for my friends and me. We got into the YouTube videos that went viral—jeez, memes and virality sound like rad and brain-numbing topics to go into in regards to fandom one day, since small-scale inside jokes making their way to “local” or mainstream spaces is certainly A Thing That Happens… just ask Joanne. The series and little bit cartoons that started popping up on this New Place To Watch Content That Wasn’t TV were… addicting, to say the least.
Let me give a brief overview of our relationship from the beginning:
I got into YouTube the way every late 90s kid growing up did—lame humor and AMVs.
That’s a lie, tbh, I have a more specific reason I got into YouTube, and eventually online fandom as a whole—Avatar: The Last Airbender. I ain’t covering cartoons, here, though. That’s a whole other downward spiral.
I hadn’t really been on the internet that much before that, as far as I can remember. A:TLA and a newly budding friend group in middle school really set me up with starting to figure out The Internet. GaiaOnline mostly, but wow would I like to ignore that that site existed (and still exists).
But anyway. My early YouTube days basically consisted of classics like Charlie the Unicorn, Fred, Potter Puppet Pals, arglefumph (the discovery of whom I detail in my Nancy Drew Self-Doc [fun party game: take a shot every time I mention the Nancy Drew Self-Doc on this page]), AMVs [aka anime music videos] (cited as a "meganiche" (117)—a large but culturally-specific group—by Mizuko Ito, et al. in Affinity Online, where they also discuss the creativity, community, and importance of said group), as well as other fan made Avatar content. Actually... let me grab one. Oh my god I found one of the ones I watched Religiously in middle school.
I’m oddly reluctant to call the AMVs I watched AMVs, though, only because they 100% were for Avatar, which was an American cartoon with anime inspirations. That would get into the whole debate about cartoon vs. anime, though, and I’m not willing to tackle that. Go here for one take I found on that debate. Also, feel free to form your own opinion. For the time being, we’ll stick to calling them AMVs, since Naruto AMVs joined my viewing repertoire a few years later. Chokes. I found another Ancient AMV fdjksljf.
Okay, that's enough. Moving on. When the AMV era hit, it was The Thing To Do to have a YouTube channel. Not to really do anything with it, but just to have a profile set up and make playlists and interact… This was before (or maybe during) the time when YouTube comments became notorious for being Absolutely Abhorrent, but regardless—I jumped on the bandwagon and did the thing. No, I am not linking to it. The username was ridiculous and the channel itself is lame and only has a middle school social studies project and a smattering of random playlists.
High school was where things really picked up, and here’s where I’ll make a divide between Let’s Players and Non-Let’s Players. I make such a distinction because I watched a lot more Let’s Players than anything else. Nowadays it’s more balanced, I think, but we’ll get to that.
Let me start with the Non-Let’s Players.
I don’t feel like there will be much to say on these guys, or this content, except for the fact that they/it influenced my humor—(Refined in some sense, destroyed it in another; but, maybe that’s the overall influence of the internet)—and gave me insight on the stories of different people—(Flashback to when I learned what “transgender” meant back in early high school through following the cosplayer [definition #2] Twinfools).
Others of the non-Let’s Play variety (god, that’s vague) that I frequented back in the day included Tyler Oakley, Dan & Phil, The Fine Bros, MyHarto, Rosanna Pansino, and JennaMarbles. I could go off about each of them and their impact on my early-teens growth bUT WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT BECAUSE—
Y’ALL. JENNAMARBLES. Yes, I'm linking her again bc she is: My idol. Queen of My Life. Comedy Goddess. Mother of 4 (dogs). Basically raised me (mannerisms/humor-wise) in my teens/early twenties (and even today). Who I Want To Be As A 30-Something Year Old. I went off about her in a blog post a bit ago, explaining the Too Much Gene she and I share. (I mean, have you seen this project?)
But anyway. Jenna's channel (and later her boyfriend Julien Solomita's channel once he picked it up) is the only one from the old days I regularly keep up with. And why? Well, I think to get into that, we gotta take a peek at "vlogging". (Truth be told, Jenna doesn't really vlog, per se, but I think my reasonings still kinda apply…………. just bear with me, please.)
Vlogging gets a bad rep. Think of the worst “millennial” impression someone could do—phone perched high, duckface on, Valley girl accent (for some reason) flowing… “So here I am in claaaaass/on the toilettttt/at my uncle’s funerallllll…” Nah, man. That ain’t it.
This is it.
By definition, a la Urban Dictionary because I love UD, vlogging is a portmanteau of “video” and “logging.” That’s it. Similar to blogs (“web logs”), only on video. A self-documentary. People may take it to wild heights, but that’s based on the individual.
Fun fact: I took a Language and Society class last year and did a whole mini project/essay/journal entry type thing (it was never really defined, to be honest) on Vlogging and Blogging culture. And boy, am I ready to whip that one out.
Well, would you look at that.
It… got deep. Long story short, my generation is numb to spectacle and wants the comfort of the real. Vlogs ain’t hurting anybody—the ones I watch don’t, at least—so… mind ya business and let a girl watch a cute couple make soap hands and a train for their dogs out of IKEA buckets and a chaotic variety of vegan and gluten-free foods, eh? Lemme live, eh?
(Also, I’m technically in one of his videos, heh hEH. Not in a stalker way, omg, please. He answered a question of mine in a Q&A. Made my damn LIFE, bro.)
Vlogs are even a supplementary medium for fandom. Plenty of musicians/artists/etc. have started up YouTube channels as ways to connect with their fans, give them a behind-the-scenes kinda thing. A YouTuber I currently watch, The World of Dave, interviewed singer Byul a few months back on the start of her YouTube channel. If you’re curious about that, here you go (also, see below). It’s an insightful look at vlogging, veterans of the Korean music scene, and online hate for content creators.
Would I ever vlog, myself…? Maybe one day if I had more interesting goings-on in my life aside from me sitting on my couch watching anime or playing A3! on my phone. To think I wanted to start a vlog about my grad school experience two years ago… I basically did that with every class in blog form, anyway, why give myself the extra work? :)))
(That is Not a dig at the blogging format of my classes. Real talk. Being able to talk about the content of my classes in an informal way is probably one of the top ways I've kept sane this whole time.)
Let’s Plays, though. Now those I wanna do. I’ve been wanting to for, like, 10 years. I mention in my Nancy Drew Self-Doc that I’d like to record myself playing all the Nancy Drew PC games. Even made this "Future YouTube Channel" page on here to stare me in the face every time I come on here to edit this site until I do it. Maybe from there, I can go on to record other games that I bought in the past that I never played. And so on. I don't wanna make all these future predictions for it, because I don't want to get in an expectant mindset for YouTube fame. That's not the point of what I want to do. (Is it a possibility? Like a 0.0002% chance, maybe, if at all. Do I think about it? Of course. Everyone dreams of fame. Do I want that to be a driving force in the content I create? Absolutely not. I feel like a headass already talking about it as if I'm entertaining the possibility. I'm gonna do a thing I wanna do, and what happens, happens. LET'S HAVE FUN WITH IT, LADS.)
On that note, let’s move on to Let’s Play(er)s.
How bout that segue? uwu
Let’s Plays, as I alluded to, and again a la UD, are essentially video game walkthroughs (or playthroughs, in a less tutorial sense). It’s a fun time and makes life easier when you’re a broke bitc—I mean, financially unable to purchase and play all the games that pique your interest. (Especially if they’re AAA games that cost $60+ a pop.) I suppose there are several pros to watching Let’s Players: experience a game for free, learn gameplay/use for walkthrough purposes and, similar to vlogging channels, connect with the Let’s Player and grow to enjoy watching them as a person as opposed to seeking out particular games.
I say that, but seeking out particular games was how I found and started watching Let’s Players. My friends back in high school got me into the Legend of Zelda series (whose games' timeline is expertly explained here—stan Polygon and Unraveled and Brian David Gilbert [hmu dude i'm p sure we're lost siblings or sumn] [*Note: we are not.]), and that was pretty much the next big video game fandom I hopped into after Nancy Drew. I could make a whole entry on that, but it would really only devolve into me wailing about how I haven’t played Breath of the Wild yet.
... which will always hold a special place in my heart—and had to know more. (I’d never seen a game like that, I guess? Idk what it was??? Graphics?? Story curiosity??? Weird because I hated horror as a genre back when I was a kid, as I said back in my Nancy Drew Self-Doc.) Cut to me then watching Amnesia playthroughs to learn the stories, figure out the puzzle mechanisms, jump at the scares, and experience a game I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise because, again, I’m broke, and also a big baby. Curiosity, though, led me to checking out a variety of horror games, particularly indie ones.
So! Broadened gaming horizon! Indirect experience so that I can kind of sleep at night while still getting the stories of these games!
(That’s the thing about me and horror!!!! I love the stories!!!!! Wildly clever!!!!!!! But!!!!!!! I can’t sleep at night!!!!!!!! @ Hereditary!!!!!!!! F*%#ed me up for 2 months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
So anyway. Storytelling influence aside.
The Let’s Players I frequented back in the day included arglefumph, Pewdiepie, jacksepticeye, Markiplier, Cryaotic, GameGrumps, CinnamonToastKen, Etho’s Lab… (Wow, all men. Ain’t that retrospectively upsetting. I’m sure I could go off about gender in fandom participation—oh wait, I did!)
For a time, I religiously kept up with uploads for all the YouTubers I watched. I don’t really know how I did it. I think, when you first get into a fandom, there’s this surge of New Fan Adrenaline that keeps you wanting to be caught up with the content. It went that way with K-Pop, too, and died out after about a year or so.
It’s rough, feeling like you’re falling out of an interest of yours, like you’re abandoning a part of yourself—(not to get deep but screw it I’m getting deep). Recently, though—during the development of this project, in fact—I got back into some of the YouTubers I used to love, like Jacksepticeye, Markiplier, and Cryaotic, with the occasional Etho and JennaJulien (JennaMarbles & Julien Solomita, since they started on Twitch and upload their streams to YouTube). Cry doesn’t post as much currently, but he played the last installment of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series a few months back, and I’d been watching that since high school, so I couldn’t miss it. That kinda kickstarted it back up again. I loved the stories, the thoughtful critiques, the humor of the gamers—and coming back to them, I realized I still do.
So, fast forward to now, and here I am, back on my bs with some new additions to the mix (The World of Dave, Jun’s Kitchen, MacDoesIt, Polygon, Binging with Babish, Bon Appétit, The Try Guys…). I've talked about how I learn something different from each ND game, and YouTube is like a leveled up version of that. I always feel like I learn something from the games/channels/people/videos I watch, and I’m glad I found my love for this garbage platform’s content creators again.
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