The Weird Side of Youtube: Deconstruction of the Abstract

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Research Summary

The initial goal of my digital artefact was to explore the multitude of strange and abstract channels that make up the majority of the “weird side of Youtube”. This included mainly strange video series that seemed to follow narrative-like structure in their uploads and had an online community built around them. My curiosity stemmed from what these videos had in common and what garnered such a large cult following for each. As I explored a large number of channels, my scope narrowed and I began focusing on a select few instead to focus my attention more on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’. How do these four channels I selected, ‘Salad Fingers’, ‘Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared’, ‘ThatPoppy’ and ‘Siivagunner’ garner a dedicated audience through seemingly meaningless content. They were all unique, but there were definitely links in the structure of these videos that could provide answers. From there I looked into the psychology behind curiosity, and why people would continue to watch videos such as these, since I saw in a lot of the comments left on the videos that people were asking each other questions and posing their own theories on what could possibly be gleamed from the videos. This trend continued in the respective sub-reddits for each of the channels and I could understand from this that the communities are formed around a collective goal of deciphering the creator’s messages. This unified goal brought multiple people together and is what established the fanbases in the first place.

After this discovery, I looked more into the thematic techniques that link all the channels. This is when I substituted one of the channels I was analysing, ‘Siivagunner’, for ‘Filthy Frank’. The reason for this change was my want for a comedic-based absurdist channel to analyse in contrast to the darker toned channels I was working with.  ‘Siivagunner’ was an excellent choice as its community was the most involved out of the other channels, but as it is an audio based channel, it would’ve been extremely difficult to link thematic similarities to of the channel to the more visual-based mediums of the others.  After this switch it became easier to find the similarities and differences that make these videos stand out online. I divided the research into multiple sections – Narrative structure, Audio, Visuals and Character – as these four categories allowed for a more in depth analysis as I found multiple books detailing the relationship of each respectively to film. I also looked into the works of H.P Lovecraft; a pioneer of the creepy and surreal in fiction.  This provided more context on many of the darker themes portrayed in the channels and set the precedent of what I should look for when analysing the creepiness of the videos. Ultimately, my research travelled on multiple tangents that deviated from my original plan of creating a separate case study for each channel then simply comparing them for my final project, and so I merely combined them all into the same video in the hopes that having the examples presented side-by-side during the comparison assisted in forming a more structured argument that links them altogether thoroughly. Despite this alteration in my presentation, I feel satisfied with the results I obtained and hope to incorporate the techniques I discovered through my deconstruction of postmodern surreal fiction and its potential fanbase into my own work in the future.



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