Friends, I have a confession to make. You know all those clickbait videos with pictures of near naked women that are always showing up in your YouTube sidebar? I clicked on one. It was late. There were sexy anime girls. Mistakes were made.
What my mistake led me to was a young man with a fancy haircut offering commentary on whether a series of pictures and gifs he found using a Google Image search were or were not hot. Mostly the pictures were of women. When they were hot, he would say they were hot. When they were not, he would make a humorous little quip about how they could improve themselves or, failing that, talk in a funny voice. Even though the video only lasted for three or four minutes, afterwards I felt the same sort of shame I feel when I realize I’ve squandered a whole day playing video games.
There are over 600 of these videos stockpiled on this channel called UhOhBro. Most of them have hundreds of thousands of views. A few have millions. All of them are like looking into the hellish bowels of some Yemini anime piracy website’s “Around the Web” section. Behold:
Every one of the videos is exactly the same. The same kid typing “Hot Mormons” or “Hot Native Americans” or “College Fail” into Google and then talking into a camera. Even the things he says are the same. Not literally the same, of course. The words are different. But having watched twenty or thirty of these videos, I cannot remember one single thing he says in them. Not one joke. Not one insult. Not one sliver of the life advice he jams into his monologue as if he’s trying desperately to convince himself that what he’s doing isn’t completely and utterly nothing. It’s like they were made in a factory.
UhOhBro is the work of a professional YouTuber called Onision. Ostensibly, Onision is a comedian. He’s been on YouTube for years and years making skit videos (most of which star himself in every role) about things like being a banana or how much he hates various people and wishes they would kill themselves. That may not sound very appealing to the sort of sophisticated people who read the U4E, but he’s put together a remarkably extensive and devoted following. More than 2 million people subscribe to his various channels and many of those people are members of Onision’s website forums where they write to each other different videos and frequently ask him for life advice. He’s also generated a whole slew of Tumblrs devoted solely to hating his guts with both a zealousness and scrutiny that rivals Fox News’ hatred of Barack Obama.
Most of the people who make YouTube videos for a career try not to talk about their work as being a business because their business is one based on the intimacy between them and their audience. Money clouds that relationship so they pretend it isn’t there. Onision, however, talks constantly about money. He make skits about how YouTube Networks “rape” content producers like him. He goes on long, vicious rants about the money he owes his ex-wife in alimony. On Tumblr, he posts with pride about how he spent 90% of his waking hours on Father’s Day working on YouTube videos. He tweets mockingly that his favorite video game is the video editing software Adobe Premiere. When he explains why he and some former friend broke-up, he talks about how that friend abandoned a collaboration project he had “invested” time and resources in. More than any other YouTuber I’m aware of, Onision is openly, stridently, obnoxiously a businessman.→