Through whatever machinations of fate and luck, sometimes I manage to hop onto a big thing before it becomes big. While sometimes that thing is a little more niche (like a mysterious little dating sim for mobile devices), making it that much more surprising when it does become huge, this time it felt inevitable that this YouTube channel would rise up in the ratings and take the internet cooking world by storm. If you’ve checked out the front page of YouTube at any point in the last year and glanced at the trending videos, then I’m sure you’ve seen a link to the show Binging With Babish. If you’ve avoided them because trending videos are typically trash and not indicative of what’s actually good on YouTube, then I’m here to tell you that you need to watch at least one episode immediately. I’ll even let you pick.
In the hype of larger productions and bigger fanbases, it’s all too easy to completely miss out on less spoken of productions that are equally as good. With this seeming boom of Dungeons & Dragons webshows, it perhaps comes as no surprise that they suffer from the same thing—it’s definitely easy to fall in the shadow of amazing shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone. So today I bring you a beginner-friendly D&D webshow starring some of my favorite YouTubers and led by Wizards of the Coast’s own DM extraordinaire, Chris Perkins. Friends, readers, dim the lights, because it’s time for some Dice, Camera, Action.
We live in strange times, my friends. Some people have dubbed this the “worst of all timelines”, and while that has yet to be proven (unless you’re a time traveler, I don’t know how it would be proven), it’s true that shit keeps piling on shit and it’s exhausting. However, this is the world we live in. One of these more recent offenses has brought people from all walks of internet life into a debate on free speech and if “political correctness” has gone too far. Spoilers: it hasn’t.
For those who don’t follow YouTube news or have managed to avoid all mentions of the popular YouTube gamer PewDiePie (real name Felix Kjellberg), ripples went through the internet earlier this week when Kjellberg was dropped from his contract with Disney’s Maker Studios and subsequently had the second season of his YouTube Red series, Scare PewDiePie, cancelled by YouTube itself. Kjellberg, who has more than 50 million subscribers on YouTube, was dropped/cancelled due to comments on several on his past videos, most notably two that were released earlier this year. On January 11th, he released a video where he ventured onto the freelance site Fiverr trying to see just how ridiculous his requests could get before people would refuse doing them. This unfortunately ended in a group of Indian men dancing around with a sign that read “Death to all Jews”; later, the Indian men explained they had no idea what the sign even meant. Later on January 22nd, Kjellberg released a similar video in which he had someone dressed as Jesus say “Hitler did nothing wrong.”
The comedy scene on YouTube, perhaps especially the gaming comedy scene, is no stranger to attempts at humor in this vein, and presumably Disney wasn’t ignorant to this when they hopped into the YouTube game, but these two offenses were the final straw when it came to Kjellberg. It’s really no surprise that other YouTubers began to jump to Kjellberg’s defense, claiming YouTube could do the same thing to them if they “spoke out of line”—having a smaller audience could mean financial death to some channels should this happen—and working themselves up about free speech being “under attack” by the mysterious, oversensitive “SJWs”. But honestly, the real worry here is: why do y’all wanna be racist/anti-Semitic/whatever so badly? Kjellberg being dropped was a necessary response, and an incredibly important one at that.
Oh my god, you guys. I’ve been waiting to bring this team and their amazing game to your attention, and now the time has come and I have no idea how to coherently put my thoughts on virtual paper in a way that isn’t me just shrieking in delight. Mirroring my descent back into the genre, the fine folk at Illus Seed recently released their first game—an otome game—that plunged me straight into feels hell and left me wishing on every star for more.
I watch a lot of people on YouTube. Really, in this day and age I think I would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t occasionally lose themselves to the black hole of a video site. However, while I was watching one of the talk shows I enjoy (which may be a WCW for another day) I was introduced to another geeky baking aficionado. And, well, long-time readers know I have a weakness for gaming eats and treats. So today I bring to you, readers, Rosanna Pansino and her Nerdy Nummies show.
I love video games a great deal; not just as entertainment, but also as a bonafide artistic medium. They have the ability to engender joy, sorrow, or social contemplation. Even if the games aren’t specifically aiming to accomplish these feelings, they may. This is the power of art. And as with any established art form, criticism is both natural and necessary for growth. Even if you want “apolitical” (although this isn’t possible) shooty-stabby games starring gruff white dudes out for revenge, this genre can still be improved with criticism. Personally, I am interested in the political aspect to games and the messages they convey. After all, we passively absorb ideas that we witness around us. Just check out current events in the media if you don’t believe me.
For this reason, this week’s Web Crush is #GamingLooksGood, a YouTube show hosted by Shareef Jackson. If you aren’t familiar with Jackson, he is a common guest/host on Spawn on Me, and has appeared on many other podcasts discussing social issues from a racial, gender, and tech perspective.
Here’s an idea: the media we consume can have deeper meanings that inspire discussion about sociopolitical concepts. Whether we want to think about how various story themes are allegory for other topics, or how various uses of technology are signs of bigger, less concrete ideas, PBS Idea Channel strives to examine the connections between pop culture, technology and art. We shape these concepts just as much as they shape us, and for that reason, this week’s Web Crush Wednesday is Mike Rugnetta’s Idea Channel.
YouTube and I have a love-hate relationship. I love it for being one of the best places to procrastinate for hours and hours and hours and still feel like you’re learning something useful (shoutout to the dozens of cooking and make-up videos I’ve watched), and for encouraging new and fresh content on the internet—for giving marginalized voices a place where they can speak and find a community. I hate it because it’s kind of shit in the way YouTube treats some of its content creators (see: incorrect flagging of videos for copyrighted material and an unwillingness to take back said flags) and that it’s basically a huge breeding pit for some of the worst scum on the internet, in and out of the comments. For better or worse, I tend to stay to my own little corner of videos, but thanks to a video from vlogger Paul Roth, I found about YouTube’s #DearMe initiative and I couldn’t be happier. Of course, as with anything on the internet, not everything surrounding the tag was positive.
For those unaware, back on the eighth of this month, people on and offline celebrated International Women’s Day, a day where women, especially women in the labor industry, are celebrated for the strides that have been made and those that are still being fought for as we speak. As a part of this, YouTube introduced the #DearMe tag (see: video theme) in which popular lady YouTubers record a video speaking to their younger selves. As with the spirit of International Women’s Day, these videos were posed to all women, with the intention of allowing younger girls of this generation feel closer to some of the very people they may watch religiously, or maybe to find kinship or a kind word from someone they don’t even know.
One of the people I enjoy on YouTube never spoke up about a recent scandal concerning jokes about sexual assault (made by her now boyfriend), and as a result, I’ve been seeking out new things to watch to mend this tear in my heart. While YouTube, as a platform, has cultivated some of the most problematic people and cultures on the internet, it’s also a fantastic source for information and discovering people who may have gone through similar experiences as yourself. For me, my web crush fits into the former—as I don’t share many of her defining traits—but I believe for many, and hopefully some of our readers here as well, Kat Blaque offers a voice to a minority that is spoken over more often than not.
There are a lot of awesome things on deviantART. While browsing about a year ago, I kept finding fanart of these four characters. Naturally, I looked up what they were from and found out they are the main characters of a show called RWBY (pronounced “ruby”). When I first started watching the series, I thought the writers were going to abuse the fact most of the main characters are female and oversexualize them. To my relief, they don’t. The characters are treated like human beings, and they’re respected for their fighting prowess. Even when the characters seem to be modeled from female archetypes! Not only that, but the writers avoid using the nice guy trope, or in this case how no decent guy ever gets a date. The character progression is well done, and I couldn’t be more excited to see where this series goes!
Spoilers after the jump!