Saturday, December 16, 2017

YouTube Rewind: The Shape of 2017

The video above is the latest in YouTube’s annual Rewind series, videos that are meant to capture the spirt and essence of YouTube during the previous year. Some years’ videos have been really great, others less so, and then there’s this year. The shape of 2017 is apparently a colourful amorphous blob that doesn’t actually have any point.

My first reaction after I watched this year’s video was a resounding “meh.” I felt nothing, didn’t connect at all, and didn’t see the point of the imagery. Sure, these videos are meant to reference what was most popular on YouTube in the previous year, and since I apparently don’t watch the videos that are most popular with teens and early 20-somethings, I shouldn’t expect to “get” the references or see any point in them. But shouldn’t it be YouTube’s job to make a video to draw people in and make them want to explore the videos they’re reflecting? Not this year, apparently. After I watched this year’s effort, my reaction wasn’t, “I’d like to see the videos that inspired this!”, no, it was more like, “thank goodness THAT’S over.”


Even so, I didn’t “hate” this video, even though I clearly didn’t like it. Hate is a wasted emotion under the best of circumstances, and hating any video is a pointless and stupid waste of emotional energy. Besides, the imagery was colourful and energetic and I liked the music track, so it wasn’t without redeeming qualities. It’s just that there was nothing remotely special about this year’s video, nothing to draw people in and make them want to explore. It was a wasted opportunity, in my opinion, so what I feel is disappointment.

Over the past few years—and I’ve shared these Rewind videos since 2013—there’s been a growing likelihood that I won’t recognise many of the YouTube “stars” they feature. This year was probably the lowest count of familiar faces yet. It felt like the video was half over before I saw anyone I even vaguely recognised, and even then I literally thought to myself, “oh, that’s what’s his face”. For the record, I did see quite a few that I’ve watched or heard of, and a couple I subscribe to. But when I watched the credits at the end of the video, my most common reaction by far was to not have ANY idea who all those people were or what they do.

The fact that I don’t recognise many of the YouTube “stars” is absolutely NOT YouTube’s fault. I could explore the trending videos if I wanted to, I could wrap myself in the often self-referential (and reverential…) world of YouTube and check out videos that other YouTubers talk about, but I don’t do that. And, I’m not sorry that I don’t: My life is quite full as it is without spending hours watching YouTube.

So, no, I don’t like this year’s video. Maybe I won’t feel so harshly when I watch it again later on. It’s just that right now I’d really rather not do that.

Coincidentally, today Statista shared the chart below as one of their Charts of the Day. I’ve only heard of three of the YouTubers, and watched none of them. And that right there is why this year’s Review video left me so cold: I’m just not part of the mainstream of YouTube, because I don’t watch what’s really popular, I don’t watch those who reference what’s really popular, so I have no exposure to any of that. But clearly people ARE watching these people, and it’s making a helluva lot of money for some of them, even if I don’t have any idea who most of them are. Chances are, I won’t find out, and next year will be more of the same.

There, I just made my own YouTube Rewind for next year.

Infographic: YouTube's Highest Paid Stars of 2017 | Statista

Related – Previous posts about YouTube Rewind videos:

YouTube Rewind: The Ultimate 2016 Challenge
YouTube Rewind: Now Watch Me 2015
YouTube Rewind: Turn Down for 2014
YouTube Rewind: What Does 2013 Say?


rogerogreen said...

Who ARE these people? I'm old.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Right?! Apparently the criteria for being included was having more than one million subscribers, and the more millions they had, the more likely they were to be onscreen for more than a flash. Also, my negative reactions weren't unique, it seems.