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Friday, October 22, 2021

The internet has successfully killed YouTube’s “Rewind” videos

YouTube

YouTube
Photo: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP (Getty Images)

Since 2011, each November of December, YouTube would put a video called “Rewind” that looked back on the platform’s most popular trends and video creators of that year as a celebration of all the great stuff that people had uploaded to YouTube. It was advertising for YouTube, a PR move to make itself look good and promote its community, and it was also advertising for whichever YouTube people were lucky enough to get into the video, none of which should—on its own—be especially controversial.

And yet YouTube has always had a remarkable ability to egregiously fuck things up, and the 2018 video in particular quickly became (at least at the time) one of the most disliked videos on the entire platform. There were multiple reasons for that, with some users being upset that the “Rewind” video prominently featured normal celebrities like Will Smith rather than real YouTube people. Others were upset that prominent YouTube people like Logan Paul and PewDiePie were completely left out, even though this was after they had both done various awful things.

As we pointed out at the time, the backlash was emblematic of the massive gap between how YouTube wants to be perceived—which is as a positive platform for self-expression—and the actual reality we live in where YouTube is often a roiling cesspool of hatred and evil. In 2019, YouTube avoided the potentially unpopular video route and condensed its most popular trends into lists, which also doesn’t seem like the best way to do it.

It was hardly surprising, then, that YouTube finally seemed to get the message in 2020 when it decided that there was really nothing about the platform worth commemorating that year. What were they going to say? “Gather around for the biggest and most star-studded COVID denial videos!”

Now, in a rare move that pretty much everyone can get behind for one reason or another, YouTube has announced that its much-maligned “Rewind” videos are dead forever. Good work, everybody. Well, medium work, because “Rewind” will live on in some other form. According to Tubefilter, YouTube has decided that one annual video can’t represent “the full breadth” of YouTube people’s work, so it’s going to stop “Rewind” and come up with a new kind of “experience” to replace it.

Maybe YouTube can create a few different recap videos for its various audiences? One with YouTube celebrities, one with actual celebrities, and one with the biggest pieces of shit who help YouTube keep the lights on even though nobody will admit it.

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