YouTube’s Rewind 2019, intended as a cheeky apology judging from their pinned comment and Twitter dialog, does more to illustrate the juggernaut’s widening dissonance with its audience.
This year Rewind is quite literally a series of lists that display the “most viewed” of their respective categories (music, video games, etc.). Rather than collaborate with its best and brightest to create a unique and exciting years’ end celebration, rather than suck up its pride and double down to actually create something, YouTube has opted for an almost entirely hands off product—a move so ironically apropos for the media giant that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so saddening. All this plays alongside “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa, her catchy verses taking on a haunting and foreboding tone as the backdrop of Google’s yearly video address.
While corporations appearing out of touch is by no means a new look, culturally speaking, not every corporation makes its millions by servicing the beating pulse of pop culture. This particular anachronistic simulacrum enters into consciousness appropriately romping alongside the “OK, Boomer” meme, almost begging for an answer to the vague question of apathy—the same vague apathy that could spawn a YouTube branded showcasing of the top fifty something whatever. More hilariously still, YouTube’s “we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves” Rewind comes after the move to round out subscription numbers (where previously a listed number of subscribers might have read as 15,201,783, post update that number would simply read as 15.2M).
Having said all that, if there’s anything more predictable than a corporate paint-by-numbers project (twice, they’ve done it twice in a row now), it’s the backlash (I’d be remiss not to rebuke my complacent completion of the ritual). The Sonic movie redesign, the Fallout 76 fallout, #MeToo and cancel culture, Rewind 2019—if nothing else—serves as a sober reminder that there is an undeniable power in people. It’s a power that gets channelled and funnelled and turned down and amped up and weaponized and silenced but it’s there—it can get rounded up and boiled down to a top ten list, but it’s there. At the time of writing, YouTube Rewind 2019, which you can watch down below, has been viewed 11M times (rounded up from 10,806,400). It has 807K thumbs up and 1.5M thumbs down.
Image Source: YouTube