YouTube's public image is reeling after one of its own videos has quickly ballooned into the site's most disliked submission of all time. The YouTube community and the internet as a whole have delivered a deafeningly negative response to 2018's YouTube Rewind.
YouTube Rewind is the Google subsidiary's yearly self-celebration of "the year in YouTube" - a tradition that started in 2010 as a retrospective on the site's biggest videos published that year. YouTube Spotlight uploaded the site's ninth annual YouTube Rewind, titled "YouTube Rewind 2018: Everyone Controls Rewind" on December 6, and within a week's time the video had already received a record 10 million dislikes. In a little over eight minutes, the video throws at its viewers a slew of Hollywood celebrities (including Will Smith and late-night show hosts Jon Oliver and Trevor Noah), streamers, YouTubers, and original animations in a fast-paced assault on the senses.
Many YouTubers have taken to their own channels to offer their opinions on why theYouTube Rewind 2018 has been disliked over 12 million times, including Marques Brownlee, a popular tech reviewer who appears early in the video as a Fortnite character riding aboard the series' famous Battle Bus. In his view, the root of the problem is "simple" and can be boiled down to a recent and growing disconnect between YouTube and its users. He muses that while he and the rest of the YouTube community view YouTube Rewind as a "big celebration" of the site's most popular contributors and significant events (largely because that's what it started as back in 2010), the company has taken to utilize YouTube Rewind as an annual marketing showcase for potential advertisers. Relating that YouTube's business model is based upon "pairing advertisers to content," Brownlee concludes:
"So YouYube Rewind turned into this, 'Hey, check out all these advertiser-friendly things for you to spend your money on - all these super clean creators and these late-night show hosts and all these things that you want your ads next to.'"
Fellow YouTube giant Felix Kjellberg, a.k.a. PewDiePie, was a high-profile exclusion from the video due to his apparent affinity for hate speech. He defended Brownlee in his own meme-filled reaction video to this year's Rewind, saying that Brownlee doesn't deserve the online animosity he and others are directing at the video. Kjellberg does state that he's "almost glad" he wasn't in the video, though, referring to it as "cringy" in nature. H3H3 Productions' Ethan Klein mirrors most of Brownlee's points about the gap that has been widened by YouTube and the creators, as well as the viewers that use its platform, but he goes much further than calling for improvements to YouTube Rewind come 2019. In his own response video, he instead makes the case that "it's time to stop" the annual segment.
Offering a slightly different opinion is tech vlogger and filmmaker Casey Neistat, who also made an appearance in this year's Rewind. While claiming that he didn't even want to broach the subject as he perceives that "there's a trend on YouTube right now that you can s*** all over Youtube Rewind [for views]," he admits that the video "wasn't great." Yet, he argues that YouTube's "intention was not to make the 8-minute-and-thirteen-second cringe-fest that was the video," but rather to make something "inclusive," addressing "altruistic aspects of this platform" and "feedback from years past […] from creators and the community."
The fact that the video is bad has already been squarely established, and a single viewing of YouTube Rewind 2018 more or less validates the community's enmity for the video. What's less clear, however, is if it's the video that deserves the internet's concentrated scorn or YouTube as a platform itself. Keeping what Brownlee briefly alludes to "post-apocalypse" in mind, one has to wonder whether YouTube's advertiser-first, community-second approach is quarantined only to YouTube Rewind or if this year's maligned Rewind is symptomatic of something that has burrowed itself much more deeply into YouTube since its recent explosion in popularity.
Source: YouTube Spotlight