The video essay is a hard craft to gain proficiency in. To create one is to challenge yourself to keep a viewer enticed with an overly verbose rhetoric, on a subject the viewer didn’t ask to listen to, and you sporadically thought researching about was a good use of 4 days and 2 packs of Nescafé. To create a youtube gallery of these works is to frequently endure a rigorous process to researching, scripting, editing, releasing and refinement, often to little praise, and a lot of useless knowledge that wouldn’t even get brought up in a pub quiz. And yet, despite youtube’s indulgence of 26 hour long gameplay streams and vlogs about rural Japanese marketplaces, these quality video essay channels are finding an audience. Frequently appearing on the trending videos list, despite lacking a regular upload schedule. It turns out you can go a lot of good with a breadth of research, a tasteful sparsity with the graphics and a british accent.
Video essay channels are hot stuff. They’re the new One Direction to traditional documentaries’ Backstreet Boys. Explaining a familiar cultural touchstone with an assured authority while providing some lesser known insight, gives value to an audience, as well as making them feel intelligent for being able to follow what you’re talking about in the first place. It’s why people loved the first two seasons of The Big Bang Theory. Education can be given in a variety of different ways. Some prefer a classroom, some prefer text books, some prefer 480p interviews cut interspersed with Arial font captions and the top 3 lines of a google image search. The style and quality of these channels’ work is what keeps their audiences coming back, anyone who does more research and analysis than the QI Elves deserves all the views they can get. It could be argued it’s somewhat wrong to analyse something as expressionistic and subjective as a film or comedy routine. Others could say it’s the best mix of science and art since my paints exploded in the lab. But I believe if someone could take the most immature of topics like Pokemon, South Park and a guy whose name is literally “childish“, and deliver enough factoids with the slick confident passion of Don Draper, that person has added to the world in a good way.
Although, whenever a geek pushes their glasses into the bridge of their nose with a smug, “actually…”, the torrent of trivia that follows is probably due to recharging their nerd batteries watching these channels. So who can really say how much good they’ve done. Click any of the logos above to go to their associated channel.