Sometimes I think about this question: “What if the internet had existed while I was in high school?”
Of course, it already did. But only in embryonic form compared to what it looks like today. I like how my first email address was given to me in my first week of university in 1997. Pre-university, my study was confined to books. (With the exception of the odd educational CD-ROM, which were nearly always terrible. Well, Encarta was okay.) I’m glad because, for among other reasons, it makes me appreciate the wealth of information now at our fingertips.
On the other hand, growing up in a small town with very limited resources, I felt knowledge-deprived. When I was very small, I was obsessed with archaeology, but couldn’t learn more than what the four-or-so books at the public library had in their contents. As a teenager, that obsession shifted to movies. I collected books about movies, gorgeous glossy ones, fit for coffee tables, but couldn’t find any about movie MAKING, or the critical theory behind them.
Imagine my delight when, in my cultural studies degree, there was an opportunity to minor in film studies. At last! My chance! I rocked up to the enrollments desk that first week of university, only to be told, “We don’t offer that anymore”. (THANKS FOR THE LIES, UAC GUIDE.)
Then YouTube came along – which I’ve discussed at length here – and I’ve made lots of channel discoveries related to the kind of information I was after as a teenager. I thought I’d share some of these here.
Evan Puschak has been creating videos for the Nerdwriter channel since 2011 and his mission is simple: to cultivate worldview.
What does that mean?
His Patreon video explains:
One of my favourites is this one. Because he’s right.
With more than a million subscribers and two thousand videos, Cinefix is a huge channel and, honestly, I only watch one part of it: the Movie Lists.
Even larger than Cinefix, WatchMojo.com (12 million subscribers) isn’t organised sectionally as well it could be. This sometimes happens when a larger channel splits into sub-channels and there’s so much content to wrangle. As such, it can take a while to find the sort of thing you want. A note: WatchMojo does go for the sillier and sexier angle more than the others in video compilations, so kids might need an eye kept on when browsing. But it has delivered some good stuff.
Whether you love him or loathe him, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t respect what Mark Kermode has done for cinema criticism over the decades. So you can see why a YouTube channel was created to document his radio reviews he does for BBC Radio Five Live in the UK with host Simon Mayo, plus the extra videos he tapes, the ‘Uncuts’ and – my favourite – best and worst picks of the year at Christmas time.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s his viral rant against Entourage. Spoiler: he doesn’t like it. Check out the Sex and the City 2 one, too.
So how does a channel with only 26 videos amass – at the time of writing – a base of just a smidge under 700,000 subscribers? Quality and care.
Tony Zhou is a video essayist who spends up to two months researching a video and, as he says on his Patreon, spends “anywhere from 20 to 120 hours to edit [it]”. Like I do with the Nerdwriter, I feel I actually learn something when I watch one of Zhou’s videos, and not just been a consumer, or treated like one. There’s a big difference.
Take this video about Jackie Chan for example. Wow. I mean – WOW.
Have I missed any? Which do you like?