So, YouTube Rewind 2018 is now officially the most hated video on YouTube. That honor apparently had been deservedly reserved for Justin Bieber and “Baby,” although YouTube Rewind 2018 has now managed to surpass it in terms of the most scientific of measurements - the number of dislikes. While that on its own is sort of news, what really drives home how hated the video has become is the timeframe of the whole thing. Bieber’s Baby hit YouTube in 2010, while YouTube Rewind 2018 arrived on December 6, 2018. In other words, in a matter of days YouTube has manage to incite enough people to click the dislike button as it took Bieber eight years to do. Now, that’s pretty impressive.
The so-called “problem”
Since the hate for YouTube Rewind 2018 became clear, a number of prominent YouTubers have now started coming out of the woodwork to help us dumb viewers understand what’s wrong with the video, where YouTube has gone wrong, and what the video is missing/needing. This includes prominent YouTubers who are actually in YouTube Rewind 2018. Which is the first sign of hypocrisy.
Here’s the thing. Those now actively criticizing YouTube Review 2018 - ON YOUTUBE - are part of the problem. While they make the case that YouTube Rewind has become too polished, too focused on advertisers, too scared to court controversy, so are most of these same YouTubers. Yes, there are some who actively bank on controversies (the ones YouTube is now accused of actively leaving out of Rewind 2018), but they make bank on controversy - that’s the product. So even being left out of Rewind 2018 helps their cause. What we are talking about here is the content creators who criticize the production as too polished and being scared to avoid the things that matter, while also creating videos that are super user-friendly, rated "G", and videos that utilize the same over-the-top production while also looking to appeal to the next advertiser/sponsor. These YouTubers draw on the days of old when YouTube was more of a rough and ready platform, and more about genuine homemade videos, and talk about the platform as if they too have not gone down the same dark route of upping their own production through the roof and to the point where their 2018 videos do not represent who they were when their channel first launched. Instead, their 2018 videos now represent their ‘brand’ and yet somehow they have the audacity to criticize YouTube for making its 2018 video also about its brand. The height of hypocrisy.
This is an even bigger problem than just the hypocrisy of what’s being said, as these YouTubers are actively contributing to the current YouTube problem. Although few and between (when you take into account all of those who upload to the platform), these YouTubers are becoming the poster children for the platform. And they want to be poster children. Some have starred in some of the platform’s “Original” programming, others have partnered with YouTube on other projects, and they all are likely to answer that phone when YouTube (or Samsung - as some have) calls asking them to be in YouTube Rewind. They do all of this because it continually helps to further their own brand. So if YouTube now has a ‘corporate image’ issue, you can be sure it has been helped along that route by the poster children as the two together have created a perpetual cycle where the content emitted from the platform (at least the most visible content) continues to be more polished and more advertiser-friendly every day. All of this, company and YouTubers, only further goes to hiding the actual homemade content the platform first became known for. It’s still there if you look hard enough, although you do have to look pretty hard nowadays as the platform is primarily owned by those polished and user-friendly uploaders. YouTube is keen to promote the select few, and those select few are happy for that to be the case. Their very criticisms of how YouTube Rewind no longer represents the core values of the platform is symptomatic of how YouTubers are no longer the same sort of contributor they once were.
Yes, it’s a bad video but don’t buy the tea
Make no mistake, this is not a defense of YouTube Rewind 2018 as the video is pretty bad. However, instead of just blaming YouTube for being out of touch, it's important to draw attention to the actual issues facing the platform. Yes, YouTube is walking a thin line now by taking more of an authoritarian position on what videos can be uploaded, including in some case determining whether a video is good enough for the platform or not, but a share of the problem must fall at the feet of those prominent YouTubers as well. When you have what are clearly spokespeople for a platform like this - and yes, they are spokespeople as that's the marketing point of YouTube Rewind -- they have to understand they are adding to the issue. But, maybe they want to add to the issue. After all, issues like this are also big sellers on YouTube in 2018.
If you consume enough YouTube content you will eventually start to hear the word “tea” pop up. This is most prolific in the makeup world on YouTube (which is massive by the way), although the idea of “tea” penetrates every crevice of the platform. Put simply, tea is the drama surrounding a current event. So for example, right now there’s a lot of “tea” on YouTube surrounding “Doctor Who” due to the latest season being a lot more controversial than many had expected it to be. This also now applies to YouTube Rewind 2018 itself as the talk on how much it's hated, its number of dislikes, YouTube’s problem, and so on, are all tea talking points.
While you could argue this article is part of that tea now, and it is, the difference is when these tea issues arise on YouTube, they become self-serving entities. YouTubers, who rely heavily on views to make money, are given a topic that they can make more videos (views/money) off of. At which point the validity of the claims being made as part of the tea need to be taken with skepticism as it suddenly becomes in the interest of those fueling the tea that the tea remains fueled. Which is definitely now the case with YouTube Rewind 2018. Not only has it become a hot topic, but it’s become a money-generating topic. Which brings us very neatly to the argument that YouTube Rewind 2018 is out of touch. If you ask me, the very criticisms leveled at the video are exactly what is wrong with the platform as a whole, and its poster children. Whether intentional or not, YouTube Rewind 2018 and its 10 million dislikes (and counting) are the perfect snapshot of YouTube in 2018.