Thoughts on video essays

Edit: this thread was split from the “new games” thread

Just now catching up with the last ~250 posts in this thread it is was very interesting to me to see peoples reaction to 2077 in early December echoing some of the same things I had to say about Cyberpunk in late december, without having played it. (I'd been avoiding reading discussion about 2077 prior to posting that thing).


I'm going to watch this whole thing but the opening quote from Neuromancer makes me want to make it entirely clear that I think that Gibson saying "it's not a dystopia, it's a economically naturalistic prediction!" is extremely fucked up.

@Moon#20315 I just finished his newest book “Agency”

it hits a bit close to home


I had a hard time taking it seriously for some reasons I got into in my thread, but of course am open to hearing others thoughts on it. But the cyberpunk thread might be the more approriate place for it if you want to give me your takes on "Agency".

@Moon#20323 you are right that’s the place to go. I’ll just say here it didn’t blow me away - none of Gibsons novels have really, but I thought it was interesting.

What a review! 11/10 stars!


This guy speech mannerisms remind me of John Teti, the former editor-in-cheif of The AV Club (amoung other things), and I mean that in only positive ways.


So you can have a voice sample and maybe understand why my brain jumped to this guy, heres him doing (a very interesting and thorough!) analysis of all The Price Is Right openings.

I like Noah's gimmick-free approach. I do wish he, and others engaged in the ultra-long YouTube video essay format, would write things down- I find it more useful to be able to reread passages from critical writing rather than go back and watch + listen to what they said. But I realize I don’t represent a “market”

@Syzygy#20383 oh no it’s turning into internet recipes!

@Syzygy#20383 yeah both video and a transcript would be ideal for me. I know what you mean about the youtube essayists being a bit long-winded. There‘s also a lot of wheel-reinventing I think bc personalities and presentation are more the material than the insights/arguments, and maybe it’s difficult to find a set “text” people can read and respond to. Not trying to hate, just observing a dilemma

@Syzygy#20336 This might be worth having a thread of its own, but I would love to hear some of your recommendations for thoughtful YT creators and critics in the same vein. I am an avid viewer of the service, myself, although its recommendation algorithm seems to be devolving by the day and I am confident I would have never come across Noah's work if you had not linked it here.


and I just don't understand why this is...



I can tell you from experience trying to get my IRL freinds to read some of my longer form writing (like some of my posts here) by far the #1 response I get is "you should make a video out of this", often from people who dont/cant/wont get all the way through reading a long post.

I am starting to seriously think one of the reasons the video essay format is so popular is that a lot of people, for one reason or another, have a hard time reading a long thing and would rather watch a video. This frustrates me, somewhat. Also helps me understand why Tim started getting more attention after his pivot to video.

I've considered using some of my written works as scripts for a video way down the road sometime but that requires a whooooooole lot of extra and different work. Kinda dont want to. Kinda just want to write stuff. Wish I didnt feel pressured to do video in order for some of my friends to enjoy it.


Well since I have no plans of monetizing anything hiring an editor would be a bit of an extravagance. Not really one I could afford or justify in my current finacial position, but perhaps something to consider in the future as I do occasionally find myself with money burning a hole in my pocket.

I dont want to get off on a rant here BUT I think it's more than just a strict literacy problem. Everybody I know texts instead of calling these days and use of the internet kind of requires at least a baseline literacy. I think it might be more of an attention span issue, but that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

the long ass video essays seem to me to be part of the netflix binge trend where just having this big slab of ambient sitcom seasons/documentary series/prestige tv/podcast whatever functions as para social personality product and time-occupier/anti-loneliness balm

Not to criticize this stuff too harshly, just think it has a different purpose than presenting a considered text. The long ass video essay has some of the advantages of conversationality, congeniality, accessibility etc, but also carries forward the drawbacks: imprecision, miscommunication, talking past others...

I (almost) feel like a jerk for asking people to "read more" and "read adult books" bc I think it’s easier than ever for the average person to publish their thoughts or whatever and engage in conversation. But I do get frustrated with having to listen to people tortuously work through things that have already been pretty well considered and exist in say book form

For example I had a few people recommend one of the chapo trap house people's video essays about contemporary anxiety or something, and god bless but all his insights were already spoken for in a 3 page deleuze essay from 30 years ago. So I guess I don’t know what some of this "content" is apart from an audience wanting some second hand contact with a "personality". Just gets repetitive and fuzzy maybe a majority of the time. But people like the "ambiance" of it

@Moon#20475 My advice is to really think which format serves best for your interests and well, what you like the most. You are creating your own text, and even if this is a short essay that holds value to you or it‘s a 900-page book essay, isn’t the reason for doing it the mere idea of loving to go through it, writing and seeing it being done and spread around?

As for your reflextions, let me indulge a little bit into what I feel about the subject. Sadly, I think people have gotten more used around accessibility (which I think it serves in some literary fields whether people know it or not -poetry, imo) and having a more direct source of information that even can get into some familiar things (like the memes). My issue, though, is what you said: it has to do with attention span and the change in how we processed information, but also in that people has more information than ever but doesn‘t want to “lose time”, so you have to even try to get their attention even more; and, even if you try to do those, you are at the mercy of social media, the quickness and having some luck by having your article being spread. Luckily, I think (and this is my opinion) that the themes exposed in blogs and Youtube are so unoriginal and so devoid of an original and engaging perspective that sooner or later you get noticed by some weirdo (Dan Bois is an example for that) that really spreads the word. But generally, I have that paradoxical sensation where people are getting used to shorter and more dynamic texts that seem to appeal to the audience but are very dull and superficial while there are incredible thesis and texts out there that don’t seem to get the love. But, if we think about it, who would have bought a 5-hour review of Tokimeki Memorial in 2018 or 2019? Few people.

i think part of it is the parasocial thing, but part of it is also that these video essays provide a sense of context, of curation, of guidance. the problem with being able to access all the books and movies in history so easily is that it can feel endless and arbitrary, and people are constantly recommending all kinds of stuff, making it hard to know what might be relevant for you. if someone you like makes a video about something, you are at least assured you will be entertained, and perhaps learn something. they are undoubtedly a diluted version of knowledge, but they are wonderful as a starting point or an introduction to things people might find too intimidating otherwise. just like if you have a software question, most likely somebody else had the same question before you, and had it answered in some forum or other, i think video essays will become a foundation for the distribution of popular knowledge, and that's ok.

as for the attention span thing... idk... a lot of these videos are long form, and a lot less dense in terms of information than "real" documentaries. same with podcasts and twitch streams; if ppl have such short attention spans how come they can stand watching hours of somebody be like "hi FatYoshi, thanks for the bits!" every ten seconds while driving in a straight line in American Truck Simulator?



@tombo#20529 video essays provide a sense of context, of curation, of guidance

yes I agree that this is part of the appeal, but I personally find this dynamic a quite suspect. You’re right that how someone should go about engaging with a field or with a topic can be dauntingly uncertain process. I don’t think the answer is to trust what someone confidently tells you. I know that's not what you’re suggesting, but I think that’s something that's out there. The danger with some of these "starting points" is when they also mark the thought horizons. Like john oliver on venezuela for instance. Or basically all mainstream US media attempts to account for what happened this time last year in bolivia for example.

or as a less serious and probably more fair example: some of these dudes going on and on and on about twin peaks heaven help me. Just making the artwork seem smaller and more pedestrian



My advice is to really think which format serves best for your interests and well, what you like the most. You are creating your own text, and even if this is a short essay that holds value to you or it’s a 900-page book essay, isn’t the reason for doing it the mere idea of loving to go through it, writing and seeing it being done and spread around?

so, like, obviously whenever I write something it's an attempt to communicate something. My cyberpunk thread was basically just me wanting to grouse about the hot topic of the moment and an attempt to correct some misconceptions I saw floating around. I wouldn't ever consider making a video about that.

But the Virtual World post was more in the realm of trying to preserve a piece of (partly personal and rapidly vanishing) history in a way that might show people why I care about it and why maybe they should also care about it (because one of the important parts of preserving something is making people care and understand why it should be preserved). I would seriously consider making a video out of that because if I have to meet people where they are in order to share that history, that seems like a fair enough trade off for me. I'd like to reach as large an audience as possible with that message and apparently its just way easier to get people to finish watching a video than reading a text.


@yeso#20536 some of these dudes going on and on and on about twin peaks heaven help me. Just making the artwork seem smaller and more pedestrian

Oh my god don't get me started on those Twin Peaks videos whoops too late.

As an old school Peaks fan the closest I had to anything like that was buying copies of the semi-professional Wrapped In Plastic fanzine to read essays about what certain elements of Fire Walk With Me might mean (particularly interesting at that time because although I deeply loved that film and still do, it was generally reviled by fans of the show when it was first released, so these essays were usually presented as 'maybe we're wrong' reappraisals). But even though there were orthodox takes coalescing at the time, everything was explicitly presented as fan theories, on the understanding that nobody really knew the truth, if there was a truth to be known - not even Lynch himself! And now we have these youtube chuckleheads declaring The One True Interpretation Of All Of Twin Peaks Ever. This is a distinctly social media era disease, the need to declare interpretation supremacy over all challengers. It's kind of revolting. Not that things have to go too far in the other direction either, like that Retro RGB guy who can't even get through a 30 minute news roundup without apologising a dozen times for expressing an opinion and reassuring his audience that disagreeing with him is fine. There should be a happy medium, right? But maybe nerd culture just hasn't evolved enough yet, to the point where people realise it's possible to have passionate obsessions without it being the core of their sense of self, and understanding subjectivity enough not to be threatened by it. But that's just like my opinion man