Each year since 2010, YouTube has released a ‘Rewind’ video montage created to celebrate the platform, its creators, and viral videos as a whole. As the platform is put under more scrutiny, more and more creators and audiences get more critical of these videos. They seek to celebrate the creators and trends that advertiser’s like rather than those they have actually innovated and drove the platform forward.
For this year, the theme of the video was “Everyone Controls Rewind.”
Through the video, we see more and more evidence that we do not truly control rewind, Google and advertisers do. As with 2017, PewdiePie, the most successful individual creator, did not appear. Who did appear in the video? Will Smith opens the video with the promise with many Fortnite references, and his prophecy comes true with the majority of the video revolving around the trendy game. Will Smith does have a YouTube channel with 4.2 million subscribers but the first thing you think of when you think of the Hollywood actor is certainly not YouTube. In addition to Smith, Ninja is the driver of YouTube’s battle bus despite Ninja gaining his following from Twitch… Then there is the appearance of YouTube’s favorite talk show hosts, John Oliver and Trevor Noah. Neither of them create content specifically for YouTube, they only post sections of their actual shows.
And then there is the blatant hypocrisy found in this year’s rewind. You may think the theme of ‘Everyone Controls Rewind’ sounds like a perfect opportunity to virtue signal and, unfortunately, you are absolutely correct. In a jarring tone shift, many YouTubers and streamers whom you likely won’t recognize sit around a… Fortnite fire… and attempt to be serious. There are some good parts, such as a creator thanking her audience for being positive after her being diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year, but there are also some pretty crappy parts. The worst part is a section in which they celebrate drag creators but… didn’t they spend a significant section of this year demonetizing creators for just belonging to the LGBT community?
Even horror YouTuber, Rob Dyke, has his videos and collaborations consistently demonetized because of his surname, something completely of his control. And while on the subject of YouTube’s horror community, we see another community completely left out of yet another Rewind. The horror/true crime community were hit with demonetization heavy this year just to appease advertisers. These same advertisers cannot see that their content is pretty similar to what one may find on the History Channel or other television networks.
The segment also talks about those who ‘set aside their differences and created something special’ despite YouTube consistently shutting down many viewpoints.
Yet another year of YouTube Rewind has taught us that this Rewind in no way represents the average creator or the average viewer. As of the writing of this the video sits at 405,000 likes to 598,000 dislikes. That ratio has gotten worse and worse as the day has gone on. This has been a trend with the Rewind videos since about 2016 or 2017. With YouTube’s current leadership and direction, they are not showing any signs of changing or even attempting to understand their community any better.
Below are some good articles on this year’s rewind:
YouTube Rewind hides its community’s biggest moments to appease advertisers
This year’s YouTube Rewind is full of people who didn’t become famous on YouTube (and also Fortnite)