The YouTube Effect

The youtube effect
The youtube effect
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There’s a lot to stuff into Alex Winter’s The YouTube Effect documentary. It is not only the story of how a group of twenty-somethings took an idea for a cheesy video version of Hot Or Not (it’s exactly what you’d imagine) and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar media empire. It also aims to cover the birth of the professional content-creator; pop made youtube; the dark dawn of the powerful conspiracy theorist; YouTube’s role in political uprisings, fake news, mass shootings. The film comes across as being packed with interesting information but offers little opportunity for depth.

Winter’s film has its root in analyzing how the algorithm, an intangible monster that takes root into our brains in ways we sometimes cannot fathom and feeds us things that we love and hate at once, has evolved. It is notable that the most captivating interviews are those featuring Anthony Padilla, a YouTuber who began by making funny videos simply because he found enjoyment in it but ended up chasing after algorithm (successfully) so as to maintain his viewership numbers and Caleb Cain who came to fame by posting videos explaining how he got radicalized into alt-right thinking courtesy of YouTube.

These are fascinating stories – Cain’s could be a film in itself – like many of those featured in The YouTube Effect which would benefit from more space for expansion on them.Winter frequently jumps between various topics far too quickly, skimming over them instead of exploring new terrain already explored by others before him. Winter may have deliberately structured this piece like a youtube video. He keeps your attention throughout, repeatedly hinting that there is more if you watch further without giving any resolution whatsoever. After watching this it is very possible for one to find themselves disappearing down numerous Youtube holes just trying to learn more. The algorithm will be fed out.

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