Four video essayists you should be watching
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We are living in an age of video essayists, particularly since The Nerdwriter sprang to viral fame last year. If you head over to YouTube’s trending section, you’re almost always likely to find a video essay in the Top 40, with topics ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to fidget spinners.
But deeper into YouTube’s algorithm, there are dozens of non-viral video essayists worth their salt who don’t get the same recognition. Without further ado, here are four of the video essayists I think are worth a watch, with one of their videos to get started with.
(Evan Puschak, aka The Nerdwriter)
Known as The Nostalgia Chick in a past life, Lindsay produces video essays about many a pop-culture subject, including (but not limited to) deep-dives on Disney movies, musical theatre and Transformers. Her think-pieces are delivered with just the right amount of snark, and everything she mentions is cited in the description box. If you're into learning about the effort that goes into the movies you love, then check out one of her most recent videos, on the Pirates of the Carribbean franchise:
If you’re looking for more social issues with your video essays, then Contrapoints is definitely a channel you should try. Contra’s brand of stark contrasted lighting and strawman personas is so distinct that when another essayist (like the next entry in this list) uses one of these techniques they are slated for ‘copying contra’. Not for the faint of heart (take trigger warnings into account), but endlessly educational:
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Hbomb is bit like marmite – you’re either going to love his content or immediately question my judgement. Featuring videos that range from 2-hour-long dissections of ‘Sherlock’ to documenting the history of an extinct gaming system to tearing apart pickup artists, Hbomberguy’s range is vast. His merging of genuinely informative discussion with a chaotic style of humour leads to a unique viewing experience. If his ‘Sherlock’ video wasn’t 2 hours long I’d recommend it here, so instead you should try his lore analysis of Sonic the Hedgehog:
If you’re as much of a nerd as I am, you’ll love Jill Bearup’s videos. Her most regular series ‘Stuff You Like’ discusses the unique features of media properties like Discworld, Avatar: the Last Airbender, Star Wars and many more. But my favourite series is ‘The History of Fanfiction’, in which Bearup details all the legal and technological changes that have brought us to where we are today in online fandom. Here’s the first of that series:
- Folding Ideas, who examines the editing of films like Suicide Squad and The Book of Henry.
- Kyle Kallgren, who has an annual series called ‘The Summer of Shakespeare’, analysing film adaptations of Shakespeare’s works.
- Shaun and Jen, in which topical issues are discussed, including fact-filled responses to the alt-right.
- Pop Culture Detective, who is only an honourable mention because he actually went viral last year, otherwise he’d be in the main list. Definitely worth a watch for his videos on toxic masculinity in all its various forms.