How YouTube lost its fun

There’s a difference between maturing and betraying who you were

Artillery Row

The years between 2014 and 2018 were a renaissance period for YouTube. As its viewership grew, and content creators realised it offered a full-time career, the platform became a goldmine for anyone who wanted their shot of internet fame.

This was the era that refused to take things too seriously — enabling the mockery of social justice warriors, from the battle of GamerGate to Ben Shapiro DESTROYING liberals on college campuses. With every cringe leftist preaching about gender, there were one hundred satirical response videos.

Not only were these videos creative and funny — from Chris Ray Gun’s legendary Social Justice: The Musical to the edgy humour of Idubbbz’s Content Cop series — they also undercut the censorious leftism spreading on the internet and in universities. This was a reaction to cultural hypersensitivity, and it provided an outlet for humour and provocation. Most of the time, these videos weren’t overtly political — people saw dumb things on the internet and wanted to respond to it. These videos gained millions of views, making fun of anyone doing anything stupid: whether it be progressives, weeaboos, Storytime vloggers, even each other.

Yet the battle of YouTube was a small skirmish in the culture war. The left now dominates mainstream cultural narratives. It’s not just some university student talking about white privilege in their room — now the police, the government, the media and big business are singing the same song. It’s seen as blasphemous to criticise or question critical race and gender theory.

What happened to the fallen soldiers of 2016?

Some simply changed, going on to other topics such as gaming or music. It’s natural that a creator’s content will evolve over time, especially as they grow older and their type of humour becomes outdated. As hilarious as Filthyfrank (look him up) was, running around in the woods wearing a pink latex costume whilst making weird noises, if his creator — Joji, who now makes popular music — continued to make the same content today it wouldn’t be as fun.

Whilst some of the titans of 2016 YouTube left edgelord humour behind gracefully, others made an effort to denounce their previous content. One of the more tragic cases of this is Idubbbz, who recently made a video titled “I miss the old Idubbbz” where he apologised for his previous content.

Idubbbz gained over seven million subscribers — most notably for his YouTube series Content Cop where he would create video essays criticising the actions of other big names in the YouTube community. His content was edgy, with a catchphrase combining two of the most offensive words in the English language.

Modern day Idubbbz seems closer to Tana Mongeau than his former self

One of his most offensive videos was his Content Cop episode on the storytime Youtuber Tana Mongeau, filmed after she told him to kill himself because he said the N-word. “If Idubbbz broke both his legs and lost all his subscribers, I would be genuinely happy,” she told her audience in a livestream. In the video, he exposes her for saying the word herself and turns up to a meet-and-greet event where before taking a picture with her, he tells her to say the word. The point of this video was not to offend people. It was to show her hypocrisy and virtue signalling, since she tried to cancel him for saying the word whilst seemingly forgetting that she had said it multiple times in a much more mean-spirited way.

Regardless of whether you agree with Idubbbz’s tactics, it’s clear his intent wasn’t to be racist. As he explained in the Content Cop video, “all of you people out there who hold these words to such high esteem, you are giving it the power that you so desperately don’t want it to not have”. Throughout his original content, Idubbbz emphasised that the context matters more than the words themselves.

Yet the modern day Idubbbz seems to be closer to Tana Mongeau than his former self, as he attempts to atone for his previous videos. Idubbbz dramatises his wrongdoings, acting as if he were drowning puppies and not just making fun of people doing bad things on the internet. In his apology video, he called his old videos “bigoted” and said that “intentions don’t matter”, since his content hurt people.

I’d argue that Content Cop was accountability done right. Idubbbz wasn’t punching down with his videos since he targeted Youtubers with millions of subscribers. Furthermore, many of the criticisms in Content Cop were justified: from “LeafyisHere” bullying disabled people and children in his videos, to “RiceGum” making a rape joke to a rape victim.

Even Tana Mongeau said in an interview years later that she “deserved it one-hundred-per cent” and “the Content Cop was good”. Idubbbz’s video sent a message to her, causing her to self-reflect and become a better person after it.

Despite present-day Idubbbz saying that it created a “culture of apathy and cruelty”, Content Cop actually held big Youtubers accountable for their actions. It wasn’t cruelty for the sake of it, and the ironic and humorous tone of the videos allowed these Youtubers a shot at redemption.  Present-day Idubbbz represents the modern form of accountability — holding onto the sins of his past and apologising for how he’s hurt a general community of people without any specific path to redemption. What good does this actually achieve?

Idubbbz has also developed resentment towards those who still maintain this edgy humour. In an interview, he said that his fans were “anti-social, weird basement dwellers”. The same thing that he criticised Tana Mongeau for can be applied to his present-day self: despite preaching about becoming a better person, the sympathy that he describes apparently doesn’t stretch to include those he disagrees with.

He has abandoned those who supported him to begin with

In his apology video, he notes that his original fans are struggling. This era of YouTube was where a lot of young men came for entertainment and guidance, as seen by the prominence of Jordan Peterson. This same type of young man, who probably felt a bit socially isolated and spent too much time online, was attracted to the content of Idubbbz. Yet instead of trying to nurture and guide this group, he ostracises them. In an attempt to make himself seem like a better person, he has abandoned those who supported him to begin with.

The same can be said with the Youtuber Ethan Klein of H3H3, who rose to popularity for making anti-SJW reaction videos. Similar to Idubbbz, his content made fun of people for taking themselves too seriously.

Despite previously commenting “Each side hates each other so much that they’re so clouded by hate and judgement that nobody listens”, Klein has become the exact thing he called out — from joking about how somebody should bomb an NRA event to deleting his interviews with Jordan Peterson.

Not only did the general consensus change on what was acceptable, but YouTube cracked down on what type of content they wanted on the platform. The “adpocalypse” erupted in 2017 — when advertisers boycotted YouTube over edgy videos — which led to the platform tightening their community guidelines. Even if Idubbbz and H3H3 did continue with their content, chances are their channels would be banned because their content wouldn’t be “family friendly” enough for Youtube’s terms of service.

It’s sad to see the icons of my early teenage years become the very thing they mocked. Spiced with edgy and ironic humour, the old H3H3 and Idubbbz fought the injustices of Youtube. Now, they’re just spiteful and constantly whining — quick to point the finger as if to deflect their new leftist audience from their old videos. Quoth The Dark Knight, “You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

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