Online video essayists exist to make you feel good about your ravenous consumption of entertainment. But their work is not inherently a waste of time. It is good to reflect on pop culture. It is good to listen to people who are better at examining cultural works and trends than you are yourself. But do not delude yourself: these people are selling entertainment that makes you feel good and smart about being entertained. YouTubers want you to watch more YouTube. Those who talk about Nerdfighters want you to buy Nerdfighter products. Those who talk about movies will make you feel comfortable about how much Netflix you watch. Those who review video games will make you feel comfortable about how many videos you watch about video games… without really playing any video games. (This was me in high school.) Ideas about entertainment are the new entertainment.
Naughty Boys Club:
- Channel Awesome
- Comic Book Girl 19
- Every Frame a Painting
- Extra Credits
- Kaptain Kristian
- Normal Boots
- PBS Idea Channel
- Super Bunnyhop
- Zero Punctuation
If you have any to add to this list, let me know.
Some offer genuinely thought-provoking material. Rhetoric is fun and pop culture is tasty. Just don’t let yourself be deceived. They are selling you pop culture by advertising thoughtfulness. Come, my friend. We are recent ex-teen boys, you and I. Time spent on these things is time on simple sugary selfishness. We were made for more than entertaining ourselves with ideas about entertainment.
It is a tantalizing tale: each bandy about the promise that, in some way, the way you waste your time is important. All the movies and video games and comics you have unceasingly consumed have been secretly important and meaningful all along. The vlogbrothers tell you that your teen feelings are important. PBS Idea Channel tells you that your memes are important. etc. etc.
I don’t disagree. But now I have watched enough of these videos for a lifetime. I am bored and want to be entertained some other way and still be told that I am engaging in something very precious by being entertained. But what about school and work and practice in the arts? I need a funny voice and a video to tell me the story. Why am I learning this language? Why am I studying this history? How is any of that going to help me serve others right now? I already know that these things are meaningful in and of themselves. But haven’t you heard? Everything is meaningful now, and all of it bores me.