The Most Important YouTube Videos
February 17th, 2021 at 2:00 PM by Kugee
It seems no matter what I try to find these days, there's hardly anything worth my time, so I end up watching nothing new at all on some days, or, worse yet, rewatch my old works on a really boring day. It seemed as if it was much easier to find some crazy new thing ten years ago, like a bonkers GMod skit or a video on a hilariously broken Windows 98 machine that seems to have been deleted long ago. What was it called? Something among the likes of "Worst Computer Ever! I can't believe I didn't win."
Everything is too conforming nowadays, videos on the watch page sidebar are almost never related to what I'm watching anymore, and using brute force to search for the unknown good videos rarely works out due to a lot of the browsing functions of past times being cut out... category filters, honors, statistical sorting, and whatever else there was... it's a useless, unwinnable battle to find anything good, if such things are still being made these days. I know they exist, I just haven't found them except on a few occasions.
I mean, YouTube must have hundreds of billions of videos available to watch. I'm sure I've watched at least parts of several millions of them over the years... maybe not that much, but in that entire span, very few have stood out exceptionally even amongst the thousands of great videos I've seen. I'd like to discuss some of these here in my very first listicle... because that's totally not a winning business model of corporate journalism.
This one's a bit of an anomaly because I didn't actually first watch it on YouTube. I watched it on StupidVideos in mid 2006, thanks to one of their ads being placed in MSN Messenger. It's probably one of the only good internet ads that ever came to be, as it showed the site for what it was by playing this exact video as is.
The video was simple: guy pulls himself through a box with the bottom open and gradually vanishes with some editing trickery. The subtly cartoonish nature of this video really struck me; I hadn't seen anything like it before, and found myself wondering if it was actually a real thing that happened. Being something recorded with a bad digital camera just like what some cooler kid on the other side of the street owned, it made me want to know more of what I had been sheltered from.
At the time I watched this video, I was very well equipped for the internet, more so than a little kid would've been expected to back then. I already had wireless adapters installed on a then recent Pentium 4 build of my own from 2005, an iBook G4, and an Acer TravelMate dual booting Windows 2000 and something else, so... with that degree of freedom, I ventured into some unknown domain that would change my life forever. All it took was some guy doing a mildly amusing editing trick! I owe ya bigtime, if it weren't for you I would've been stuck in the old-fashioned trash realm for several more years!
Most people may not have known about Hatris until Dunkey mentioned it, but I didn't know about Dunkey until I found his review of it on accident as I was looking up Hatris videos. There was something about the video that suited my tastes quite well, being so zany and not having the usual "gamer" vibes that turn me away from other gaming videos.
I didn't think too much about the channel when I first saw this video, but I would come back to it here and there only to find out just how good it is. Might I also mention, unlike most channels that grow large, Dunkey has maintained his integrity throughout the ages, even if he does sponsorships here and there. (Hell, you can kind of tell he allows himself to receive paid sponsorships to make fun of sponsorships...) I don't fuck around when I say Dunkey's the only good channel with more than five million subscribers.
Normally I don't even bother subscribing to channels with more than 100,000 subs anymore, but I know that when I see him pop up in my sub feed, I'm guaranteed to see something so fresh and hilarious once again. It's a sign of hope that the YouTube landscape can be better, and it all starts with creator initiative.
I can't name a specific video as some of the older ones may have been deleted and I don't have any browser history that old handy to point you to an exact one, but these things were among the first to really get me hooked on YouTube. Being someone who had been playing New Super Mario Bros. at the time I was watching these, it was fascinating to first learn where the "new" came from in the title. I had a couple Mario Land cartidges along with plenty other Game Boy games, most which got sold in a garage sale against my will, but I didn't really know what an NES was until I looked these things up on the internet.
Quite a coincidence that Virtual Console was right around the corner, as at the same time I was feeling alienated by the online shooter craze of the late 2000's. Old arcade and console games were a perfect escape from all of that madness, and I fondly remember practicing Galaga '88 so much in the hopes of one day getting a Dimension 5 1CC clear. That's never happened, of course, but I think I did push myself pretty far there in a few runs. I actually have a few composite recordings from 2008 on that game, one which can be seen here. Nothing special, but I used these in an intro for a new studio name I gave to my videos then, "Dimension Warp Productions". None of those videos were published to YouTube, as I was in hiding for a couple years following a thing from 2007.
These days I don't bother much with gaming, but I found myself a lot more satisfied with these old games than any of those online daycare programs where you scream about hackers for two hours a day. TAS videos were my gateway into building a lot more enthusiasm for these old games.
#7: Belle the Beluga
#6: Everyday Repairs
MoldytoasterMedia is perhaps one of the most unique channels on all of YouTube. While Jon, the guy behind the operation, mostly just drinks water these days, he has a large backlog of strange videos that really become hilarious if you watch enough of them. You may have seen something among the likes of "The XBox 360 Sucks", possibly even on Google Video when it was its own video sharing platform.
My favorite works from Jon are the many zany skits he's done in the past. He's done "one episode series" and other cheesy works, but the best of all has to be Everyday Repairs. The things Jon makes and breaks throughout the series really makes for the perfect blend of low and high budget; you really have to see it for yourself.
So many of the things Jon's made have stuck with me for many years... sugar and plastic, the stock market, and the almighty hammer. They're timeless classics that define the old charm of Google Video... ahm, YouTube. I couldn't tell you how delighted I was that he made a new episode after a 10 year hiatus. Unconventional niche humor is exactly the thing I crave in videos.
Seems like I'm picking a needle in a haystack here, but back in 2011-2012, retro tech didn't really have a stronghold in the YouTube community; anything pertaining to old hardware was generally considered more of a joke. More households were finally ditching CRTs, Pentium III computers were falling out of practical usability even with the fairly lean modern Linux distros out there, and smartass telephones were smuggling themselves into the position x86 computers held before.
My only sources of motivation to get more into old computers in the first place were being alienated by trends of modern computing by 2002 standards, and a couple of family-owned old computers that allowed me to get away from that. One such computer, the Am486 DX-40, was eventually given to me. My first thought was not what games I could play on it, but how I could make it run faster. I had to find out myself what a 486 computer could become through opening the case and conducting online searches. Repeatedly saying "SOCKET 3" to myself to ensure I don't forget that crucial detail led me to the Am5x86, a processor nearly 100MHz faster than what I already had in there. But how much of a difference did it really make?
Thankfully, some YouTuber was there to show the difference. It was because of the straight to the point Quake and WinAmp benchmarks that I knew I could be in for something really cool. I HAD to get one myself, and although it took a lot more hardware than just the CPU to really create a fast 486 for running Windows 95, it was amazing to see a clunky machine lifted so high. The refined 486 computer would become the subject of some of the very first videos on my current channel. I've wrote about this more in Bigeye. In a way, BlackSquirrel7's comparisons serve some inspiration for all the other niches I've sinced covered in my own videos.
The Website is Down is a short lived web series that demonstrates a shocking level of attention to detail with computers. As someone who was well into running Linux/FreeBSD servers at home around the time I first watched it, I sure as hell picked up on the details easily.
Everything about the series was so convincing; there was an entire authentic server network with real custom programs at play to fit the scenario of some sysadmin days at the ficticious company PlastrolTech, and some of the gags thrown in there are not far off from the realities of system administration and the 2000's internet experience. Even some actual corporate setups were used to film some scenes in the videos, including a server room!
This level of authentic detail was a breath of fresh air from the obnoxious Hollywood productions that improvise fake ass computers with hyper-obvious CGI interfaces that say DELETING... 58% COMPLETE or whatever. I had previously made up scenarios in the form of """animations""" about Windows 95 back in 2006, but it's because of The Website is Down that I found myself wanting to go back and craft a realistic 90's computer atmosphere of my own in some of my videos, complete with a fictional universe.
When I really started watching Smosh more in 2007, I, like many others, wanted to make comedy sketches for YouTube myself. I really sucked at pulling it off back then, but that's beside the point. What was so fucking cool about YouTube back then is that anyone could gather around with a MiniDV camcorder, or even something of lesser caliber, record themselves doing a skit about anything they could come up with, and publish it for everyone to either love or write angry comments about how bad it was.
I didn't entirely understand The Assassins when it first came out, but as I came back to it many years later, I now see why this trilogy is Smosh's most important production: it establishes the importance of everyone getting up and making videos together, as well as the integral bond of Anthony and Ian. Without the two together, Smosh cannot be.
I remember watching a mirror of a local news interview of the Smosh duo as they made it big on YouTube. They talked about how the then young YouTube partnership program allowed these guys to not have to work at a contemporary job, instead focus on what they love doing "until people get tired of it". It seemed as if a utopia was headed our way, where these new artistic endeavors would suffice as work... but fate had different plans.
Over the years, Smosh would be devoured of its former identity as their operations were acquired by a shady company called Defy Media, as well as YouTube's partnership game slowly changing for the worse. I could go on all day about how the industrialization of YouTube content stopped allowing room for creators to sustain themselves with just one or two skits a month (to which we would regard each one as a major event in our childhoods), but you should watch Anthony's video on how much of an absolute assbite Defy was to the Smosh crew.
I haven't been a regular Smosh viewer for many years thanks to how a lot of their videos ended up becoming so formulaic, but hearing about how all of this shit that went down shows it's no wonder Anthony left Smosh. Having yourself and your creative potential under the tight grip of a company that doesn't understand your vision is perhaps the most capital insult any artist can receive. The industrialization of YouTube and the MCNs that cashed in on it ripped apart every bit of that old dream that was once there, and I can never forgive those companies for that.
I really miss the days when every YouTube video was a surprise, not predictable in the slightest...
Among the many insane videos comprised of assets from Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Team Fortress 2, and other Valve games, many will cite Elliot Goes to School as their all time favorite Garry's Mod video. There's plenty of reasons for this: on a technical standpoint, it helped popularize a wild new form of humor exploiting the Source engine's capabilities in the form of a series of screenshots and short clips utilizing thrusters. Plenty have been made before then, but they were usually primitive (still charming nonetheless).
It's crazy how well it works to completely transform a character in a Machinima-like video, leaving only the model unaltered. I can look at Dr. Mossman and say "oh, that's Ms. Person from the Chemistry class". I cannot tell you how uncontrollably I was laughing one night when I first found this among other GMod videos I was watching. In fact, I was laughing so hard that it kept me awake up to the following afternoon. I was never one to be able to fall asleep at the same time every day, and was about to go to bed when I found this. I don't think I even finished the video in full until after I had to go somewhere that day.
Elliot Goes to School carries an important message for everyone struggling through the tyranny of school, or the smug bullies that come with it: at the end of the day, it's a step closer to the future. There is a light at the end of that sanity-depriving environment. It's a long road, but even at your lowest points, you can make it out of that shithole. Hot damn, was it one hell of a relief when I did myself, even if I still have nightmares about it to this day.
Colin would go on to make several more installments to Elliot's adventures as well as many other lovable classics until, well... fucking hell, I hate it when biological monsters from within try to destroy creative geniuses. At some point we all have to become immortal so we can continue to find joy in endlessly pursuing new creative endeavors, free from the boundaries of possible organ failures, gunshot wounds, starvation, and too many other things taking us too soon. It pains me to think there will never be a true successor to Elliot's last adventure anymore, and knowing my uncle previously had cancer, I sure as hell don't want him to go so soon for all the inspiration and knowledge he's given me to get to where I am today.
Just for anyone who's new to this and may be raising eyebrows about some of the jokes used in this video... I'm certain Brandon as a character is being used to mock people who unironically use "gay" as an insult, no malicious intentions here.
A lot of the videos I've listed here may not be the kinds you yourself can relate to, but I am here to tell you of my own experience on YouTube. My journey into online video streaming has been a very long and deep one, but I can confidently say that the multi-part video that shocked me most of all and provided a clear path for my future was a longplay of one of Sunsoft's late era Famicom titles, Gimmick!
Not just any kind of longplay, either; it had annotations, one of YouTube's coolest features that has since been murdered in cold blood. (Hard copies of the annotations have been archived here) For quite a number of years, I knew I wanted to make a game at some point, but I really had no idea what I wanted it to be about... until I saw Frank Cifaldi explaining the phenomenal technical feats of Gimmick through the annotations that drive his longplay. Vibrant colors, fluid animations, an actual physics engine, and strong attention to detail in a small package. How does a game on 1983 hardware accomplish THIS much?!
A more sophisticated memory management controller on the cartridge factors into it for sure, but there are plenty of games with extra MMCs that don't grapple with the strength of Gimmick - not even Super Mario Bros. 3 or Kirby's Adventure. That's why only this game could really allow me to brainstorm the precise future I want. The annotations that clearly explained the strength of Gimmick helped me quickly realize just how big of a deal this game is, so it really is disgraceful that YouTube just decided to wipe every annotation off the face of its site at the flick of a switch.
I've completed Gimmick once before, even getting a good ending the first time I did, but only thanks to farming a ton of extra lives in one room due to a bunch of screwups I had in getting a treasure. Even if it is a bit too short, it feels a lot longer than it is in a good way. There's no question about it, this is the best game of all time and nothing's ever going to surpass it. One day when my programming endeavors really take off, I'd be more than willing to get an actual copy of Gimmick complete in box for nearly any price.
There are a couple other videos I could mention here that would rank really high on this list, including something related to one of YouTube's forgotten controversies from 2007. I still don't feel ready to talk about any such thing in great detail, but one is worth noting since it parallels a lot of the same problems YouTube creates today.
So What and Where Is That Future?
I watched that Gimmick longplay in early 2013, and shortly found myself conceiving a character that's been stuck in my mind ever since. Over the years, I've thought about how I'd want the game she'd star in to play out, but I've also never really been able to get started with programming the whole thing. Such detriments preventing me from running towards this vision I keep having include drowsiness resulting from shitty placebo medications, and once I finally got off of those, a need to upkeep my exploding YouTube channel with a bunch of these smaller ideas. A ton of other things were suppressing my motivation to push forward as well, including knowledge roadblocks and an uncertainty on where to start.
I did eventually start learning how to program in x86 assembly with DOS at the start of 2018, but only in short bursts due to my channel detracting from all of it. It ended up being an old book off eBay rather than a YouTube tutorial series that helped me get a grip on the seemingly cryptic language. While I still only know some of the basics of 8086-level assembly and INT 21h, I will say that this strongly resonates with me more than any other programming language... when I have control over the CPU, I tend to feel more confident that I can do something the way I want it to, and love the idea of making my programs as tiny as possible. Not even C has that magic. Still, it is a pretty awkward learning curve given the greater attention to detail it demands, but I never had good luck with calloc() anyway.
Now that I'm going to give up on large YouTube projects after Project Cisco, it should finally allow me a lot more room to learn more of the crucial programming essentials I need to make DOS programs, assuming my site doesn't end up eating so much of my time. In my last video, a lot of people were suggesting other YouTube alternatives for me to try, but I have to reaffirm that I don't want to make videos that much anymore. My channel has gotten in the way of what I was really hoping to get started on.
I've wanted to quit on multiple occasions, but couldn't go more than a few months whenever I did go in the dark due to withdrawal from not making videos. There were still these other video ideas I wanted to put out there, no matter what they were about or how they were executed. YouTube has been more of a drug in its late stage, injecting minute dopamine in me for a day before the effects wear off and I'm miserable again. Even when making videos became fun again with Vlare, it was still a detraction from my programming desires regardless.
I'm getting too old to keep making videos for this futile hobby. I've already put out nearly everything I could ask for on my channel, and it's much easier and more rewarding to write stuff for my website rather than go through the trouble of making a video these days. If anything, I'd rather not make any videos at all; next time I find myself thinking about making one, I'll just shove my hand away from the idea. I've been going at this whole thing for around a decade and a half, and I won't stand for the mundane cycle anymore. The one video I did make recently is unlisted, and it's nothing but a test of my new camera. Basically, if I absolutely have to make anything, I'm not gonna outright publish it.
But maybe someday I will come back and make another large video following Project Cisco... I doubt it will be for many more years, though. My top priority now is trying to work on Cisco as much as possible so I can bring proper closure to this era upon its release several months from now, and get that backlog emptied out once and for all. Once that's done, I'd like to gear up to make some sort of EGA adventure of some kind as a stopgap before realizing that dream that's stuck with me for the last eight years. I can't provide details on either project, but maybe there's a chance they'll see the light of day when this YouTube thing is all behind me...
As time goes by, my ideas keep evolving. Many of them haven't been written down, but some key points have been sticking with me for years. I think when all of these finally come to fruition, you'll find the result to be much more fulfilling than any video of mine could ever be.