At the end of every year, YouTube releases a video called “Rewind,” which essentially celebrates the content creators and viral videos that really had an impact on the site and the culture that year.
Or at least it did.
This year’s Rewind is so unpopular that at the time of this writing, the video has over 7 million dislikes to nearly 2 million likes, and is on track to replace Justin Bieber’s music video for “Baby” as the most disliked video of all time. The comments for the video aren’t any better, with even the comments not completely ripping it apart giving the message that important things were missing from the video.
It’s no wonder that it’s so unpopular, though. The video is replete with YouTubers hardly anyone recognizes and devoid of content creators and events that people actually paid any attention to. It has some things here and there that are nods to actual viral things that occurred on the platform, but otherwise, it’s a garbage fire of virtue signaling, try-hardness, and at moments, a giant middle finger to those who aren’t in the video but should be.
Watch it for yourself below before we continue, if you can stomach it.
YouTube seemed to make sure that much of the content that didn’t meet their definition of “safe” wasn’t acknowledged.
For instance, one of the biggest things happening on the site right now is the subscriber battle happening between PewDiePie, the most famous content creator and most subscribed to person on the site for years, and the channel T-Series, which is a music label out of India who produces Bollywood level music videos.
There was no mention of this in the Rewind video. Why? Because PewDiePie fell out of YouTube’s good graces years ago thanks to his lack of political correctness and somewhat right-of-center stances when it comes to some issues. He makes fun of social justice warriors and says and does things that today are considered mortal social sins.
So he’s out, and the war between he and T-Series gets no mention. His distinctive chair made it in, however, and the channel Jaiden Animation, which did make it into the Rewind, put a small nod to PewDiePie in the background of her contribution to the video with the message “sub to PewDiePie” crafted out of a toy submarine, a picture of a hand giving the peace sign, and Pewd’s distinctive P. A move that feels more like a middle finger to YouTube than a simple nod to PewDiePie.
No mention of the Logan Paul vs KSI boxing match, Shane Dawson, Rhett and Link, or Philly D either. No MatPat or any of his theory channels references to stupid trends like tide pod eating. For a YouTube video celebrating YouTube, it felt pretty lacking on the YouTube part.
But what was kept out of the video was overshadowed by what was put in.
Ninja, who is more well known as a popular Twitch streamer than a YouTuber was thrown in, which seemed more like a free commercial for Twitch, YouTube’s direct competitor, than a nod to an actual YouTube creator, many of whom were shafted here. They also included Trevor Noah and John Oliver, which made no sense as I’m not sure what they accomplished within the YouTube community other than being famous and having YouTube channels. The same goes for Will Smith who was prominently featured.
Even things that had every right to be there were offset by something that didn’t. The Walmart yodeling kid who went viral earlier this year made an appearance, but they paired him with Adam Rippon who is famous for being a gay Olympian who repeatedly threw shade at vice-President Mike Pence and had little to do with YouTube.
But oddly placed celebrity cameos aside, the Rewind featured mostly people that I hardly even recognized doing cringe-worthy things that felt try-hard and out of place. One of the prominently featured creators hasn’t dropped a video in months. You especially get this feeling when right in the middle of the video, these YouTubers that you hardly recognize begin talking about social justice issues that should get acknowledged.
These include drag queens, a nod at the #MeToo movement, support for the migrant caravan, single mothers, and the depression/anxiety confession trend that swept YouTube through many commenters discussing their widespread self-diagnosis of sociopathy.
I can’t speak for other YouTubers and content creators, but it felt to me like much of what was included in the Rewind was included because YouTube felt like it was making itself seem like a platform for corporations to feel safe enough to invest their ad dollars in. It presented these shoehorned in acknowledgments and “noble” causes that made it seem like a platform that not only cares but makes people care. Corporations want to get on board with that kind of image they think people will respect and Google/YouTube wants them to think that too.
So they neutered the Rewind just like they’ve attempted to neuter YouTube the demonetizations, suspensions, and bans. Where YouTube was once the Wild West of creation, it’s been replaced with sterile corporatism faking virtue for money. The 2018 Rewind video is an accurate look at what YouTube has become.
People hated the YouTube rewind because it didn’t celebrate YouTube, it celebrated agendas and cheap shots at ad dollars soaked in Fortnite references.