An Editorial From John Camarena
Well it’s been a nice hiatus brought to you by COVID-19, but life goes on and so must the creation of content. Continuing with my series of favorite Youtube channels, the next three are specific in that they are all intelligent, geeky ladies that create longer form videos. Chock-full of interesting information, ranging from topics about pop culture media and hot takes to deeper psychological and social issues, these creators never fail to have my attention.
Jenny is an acerbic young woman who is deeply steeped in the nerdy fandoms of Star Wars, Harry Potter and especially Disney. She’s a former Disneyland employee and admits she has a fascination with theme parks in general and Disney parks especially. Jenny’s style is to deep-dive into whatever she’s making a video of, whether it’s a movie, book, or even merchandise, all while providing a running commentary and generally tearing them apart in a loving fashion. The majority of her videos are filmed from her bedroom, with a few rare exceptions that have her out and about at a con or otherwise somewhere outdoors. While she is never mean-spirited, she does not mince words when calling out the ridiculousness of the plot holes or story decisions in the books or movies she’s discussing, and has sharp observations combined with a sweetly innocent and slightly monotone voice. While most of her videos are 20 minutes or longer, she also has a few shorter videos where she sarcastically pretends to pitch movies by solely highlighting the elements of that movie that arguably made it bad, or just presents a short video on a recent moment in pop culture. She’s also fascinated by Reylo (Rey and Kylo Ren) fan fiction, and reviews these stories as well as other questionable works of fiction in her dry style. She’s also collaborated with Screen Junkies/Fandom Entertainment for a series called Millennial Falcon, in which she would speak to guests about Star Wars-related topics, and while she obviously had a higher budget for the production of those videos, they lack the charm of her independent videos. Some of my favorite videos include “15 Very Dumb Things in Fantastic Beasts 2”, “Justice League Bad”, and “Tomorrowland Ruined My Life and Dreams”
Now, while Jenny is precociously sardonic and satirical, Lindsay is much more sharp and scathing. Previously known as Nostalgia Chick on Youtube’s Channel Awesome, she continues on her own channel where she post videos about pop culture observations, with a heavy emphasis on reviews of Disney movies, but also touches on other relevant releases. Lindsay’s content is approached with a more academic eye and really breaks down the tropes involving feminism and woke culture, or rather the way that some of the media tries to implement it and usually in the worst way possible. Lindsay also hosts the PBS Digital Studios series It’s Lit!, which focuses on literature, and is now an author herself, with her first novel, Axiom’s End, set to be released soonish. Some of my favorite videos she has created include “Woke Disney”, a dissection of the Dumbo remake and the problems it chooses to ignore; “The Hobbit” 3-part mini documentary; and “How Aladdin Changed Animation (by screwing over Robin Williams)”. Overall, Lindsay is not shy about taking a stance regarding the messages that pop culture media tries to, and often fails to depict.
Natalie Wynn is probably one of the most interesting and unique Youtubers I’ve come across in recent history. But unlike other controversial Youtubers like your Logan Pauls and your Jon Trons, she is an academic intellectual that earns her vitriol by challenging preconceived societal norms and surely antagonizing her detractors head-on by performing as a multitude of characters, each meant to mock a certain stereotype such as fascists, TERFs, and even herself. Found while searching for videos about the incel phenomenon, Natalie caught my eye thanks to her colorful and moody lighting and fancy wardrobe. She has in distinctive sense of humor, that when paired with her clearly brilliant analysis of important social topics, make for some long-form videos that are never boring. What is probably the most refreshing aspect of her video style is her willingness to explore her own psyche in relation to the subjects she discusses, and being very honest about her feelings from the perspective of a person transitioning into a woman. Natalie’s videos, when viewed chronologically, contain a meta-narrative as she becomes more accustomed to the changes she’s going through, both literal and metaphorical. Although her videos tend to be on the longer side, her style of humor peppered throughout very well written and filmed video essays keep you engaged. Besides the before-mentioned video on incels, I also highly recommend Beauty, which focuses on the preconceived notions of attraction and the lengths that some go through to achieve physical perfection, and Shame, in which she analyses her struggle to figure out dating and physical relationships during her transitioning.
I highly recommend checking them out, if only for a different perspective to what is a mostly male-dominated medium, but are strong enough to stand on their own.
An Editorial By John Camarena
There are so many different types of YouTube channels out there, from the broad to the scarily specific. Some real gems may get passed up if you don’t sometimes search for things outside of your regular interest zones or feel adventurous on a thumbnail. But I’m here to dig through the dregs of content to filter out some unique or otherwise good channels that don’t get the attention they deserve. All of these that we’ll be looking into are channels I too am a fan of, and therefore can also serve as an insight into my inner workings.
Classic horror film and retro gaming enthusiast James Rolfe’s “Angry Videogame Nerd” character actually predates Youtube itself. Making videos since he was a child and posting online since 2004, he created a unique brand of comedy videos focusing primarily on criticizing retro games from the 80’s that were known for their ridiculous difficulty. Games like Back to the Future, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Karate Kid, Castlevania 2 and Legend of Zelda 2 were all on the Nintendo Entertainment System, which is due to the character originally being called The Angry Nintendo Nerd; the name was modified to avoid copyright later on. Not long afterward, the Nerd covered other consoles and games as well as accessories like the Powerglove. The Nerd made his mark by having a unique way of reviewing games in which he will become increasing agitated by the games’ difficulty, drink beer, and eventually unleash a colorful stream of imaginative expletives. It’s a style that has since been copied with varying degrees of success, but there’s nothing like the original. The Nerd is still going strong to this day, and James will also appear as himself in some offshoot videos like Rental Reviews and James & Mike Mondays, and a personal favorite of mine, Monster Madness, in which he’ll give a short review on horror movies new and old, and themed runs such as the complete Godzilla series or every Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. There was even a movie in which he reviews arguably the worst game of all time: E.T. Some notable reviews that I love to revisit include his review of the Atari, NES and SNES Star Wars games, his review of the Virtual Boy, and the Wish List episodes 1 & 2, which was like a time capsule from the 80s.
2. Red Letter Media:
Now, shifting focus from retro games to popular movies, we have Red Letter Media. First rising to almost overnight prominence after the likes of Simon Pegg and Damon Lindelof tweeted about it, their 70 minute Phantom Menace review broke down all the things that I subconsciously hated about the Star Wars prequels but lacked the general understanding of the language of cinema at the time to truly articulate. The narrator, a Mr. Harry S. Plinkett, speaks in what can only be described as a homicidal maniac’s voice and his choice of things he finds funny would corroborate that. That being said, the man behind the voice, Mike Stoklasa, is a former film student who has written and directed several projects under his own production company now known as Red Letter Media, and is well versed in story structure, shot composition, and possesses a sharp wit when pointing out inconsistencies and gaps in the logic of the screenplay. The Plinkett reviews actually started with reviews of the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, in which he points out that the character of Picard was written almost as an exact opposite of his TV character for the sake of making the movies more action-driven. From there, we have gotten all the prequels, 2 of the 3 Disney sequels, and an assortment of other films such as Titanic, Avatar, Baby’s Day Out and Cop Dog. With their newfound success and attention, the channel began to branch out to some less scripted fare, from Half in the Bag, where they review one or two movies that are currently still in theaters, to RE:VIEW, where they do an in-depth analysis and praise some of their favorite classics movies such as The Rocketeer, Tremors, and Ghostbusters; and The Nerd Crew, where they essentially make fun of nerd culture in general. There’s also Best of the Worst, in which they will randomly, and sometimes creatively, choose from their massive collection of VHS tapes and have a roundtable discussion about them, ending with them destroying whichever they vote was the worst viewing experience. If you love film and want to listen to a bunch of interesting characters making fun of each other while also making some great observations about the movie industry, you can’t go wrong here, just be warned that they won’t shy away from joking about inappropriate things or events.
3. Girlfriend Reviews:
The most recent entry into my regular video rotation is a cute video series by early twenty-something Youtubers Matt and Shelby, better known as Girlfriend Reviews. The gimmick here is that Shelby was a backseat gamer that decided to start commenting on the games her boyfriend would play from her own unique point of view; not being an avid gamer herself, she brings some interesting and humorous insights into video game tropes that are normally taken for granted. Things such as overly convoluted storylines or play mechanics come under her scrutiny as she questions why they have to be the way they are. Eventually she started joining in and getting some first-hand experience, and also branching out into other media such as one of my favorite videos: watching Star Wars: A New Hope for the first time as an adult. Their videos are funny, well-edited, and very entertaining. So much so in fact, that there were rumors on the channel’s subreddit page that Matt and Shelby were just actors and the videos were actually being professionally produced by some marketing company. This is doubtful, although there is a suspiciously clean level of polish to their videos, they are not outside the realm of a couple of plucky kids with some video editing software and a razor sharp eye for meme humor. Three good videos to watch are the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening review, in which she stops three-quarters of the way through and just plays the Untitled Goose Game; Doom, where she realizes her potential for enjoying bloodshed; and Bioshock, where she really goes into detail about the setting and art deco design juxtaposed with the horror of the story.
These are great primers for some good pop culture consumption, all from very different yet highly entertaining points of view, and really just the tip of the iceberg for deep-diving into the depths of my own geekdom. And no, you’re eyes are not tricking you, Macauly Culkin has appeared two of the three channels discussed today, since he is branching out and embracing the Youtuber culture with channels that he also finds entertaining.