USA Today’s Careless Blow to the Outside Perception of YouTube Poop
YouTube. Most of us use it, most have issues with it. But with no other video service legitimately rivaling it, it’s still looking like it’ll be around for a very long time, with little indication that we’ll see any dramatic improvements anytime soon.
USA Today writer Jefferson Graham brings up one very common and understandable issue with the site in his Talking Tech piece, “On YouTube, sexualized 'Frozen' and Nickelodeon cartoons aren't barred from kids”, published on December 6, 2017.
“We’ll spare you the details,” Graham says, not in the text of the article but in the accompanying video above it on the page. “But take it from us; this is not stuff you want your kids to see.” This “stuff” described in the article is what we know as YouTube Poop, very much of which is not appropriate for young children at all. Unfortunately, while Graham seeks to “spare” his adult parent readers the details, the article’s framing of its subject matter fills in the blanks in quite an unflattering way.
Again, it’s somewhat understandable, and I’m not going to lose my head over some working parents with a lot on their plate and one older journalist not taking an active interest in finding the real truth about YouTube Poop. But I personally feel it doesn’t take much intuition or mental effort to look at any popular Youtube Poop with streamlined humor and, well, get the joke. Not everyone does—we still have soccer moms yelling at movie theater managers after mistakenly taking their toddlers to Sausage Party—but they are a small minority despite being enormously aggravating.
Though the article’s ultimate point is a good one, that parents or guardians of young children should be more wary of content even from a mainstream source like Youtube or TV or streaming services, the writer’s framing of comedic Youtube Poops is carelessly unflattering and, frankly, demonizing. The article opens with:
image caption: Though it’s good to hear YouTube is also making progress to increase its reviewing workforce, which is a welcome change.
Youtube Poop, as perceived by the Talking Tech writer, is bluntly the work of “those who wish to manipulate, mislead, harass or even harm” young viewers. The article proceeds to put Youtube Poop in the spotlight with that preamble, pointing out their use of popular family friendly cartoons and characters. Now, there are videos and channels completely geared to gaming the algorithm for views and profit using these icons. Here’s an informative video on these:
The creation of these channels’ videos are often left to algorithmic programs, with no human involvement. The same could be said for the system meant to enforce the site.
However, as anyone familiar with YTP knows, Youtube Poop was never intended for that purpose. You don’t even have to be familiar: Any Youtube Poop streamlined enough to be the least bit popular has the obvious intention to be funny the same way an explicit Robot Chicken, South Park or Mad Magazine or literally any crude parody online of a family property is intended to evoke laughs via shock value:
Watch in horror as explicit programs put edgy shock elements in its sketched with colorful characters and motifs of family appropriate entertainment!
How could they target our children this way? Any child left unsupervised watching Cartoon Network past 9 PM could be exposed to this deceptive content!
Yeah, these parodies don't necessarily even have to be good for the intent to be clear. (Where's the mainstream news screed against Racist Mario, by the way?)
The article introduces its readers to Youtube Poop the way a PSA from the 80’s would introduce its viewers to alcoholic drinks. Obviously, neither alcohol nor Youtube Poop is appropriate for children. The problem here is, if the makers of Youtube Poop in this analog are the brewers, then Youtube is the purveyor who fails to ID their customers. And YouTube, as the article acknowledges, does not run a tight ship. If Youtube was a ship, it’d be like Noah’s Ark; full of every kind of wild animal in the world and overwhelmingly large enough that it’d take one of God’s chosen could manage it alone.
The USA Today writer is not concerned with the intention of (the majority of) the makers of Youtube Poop, but he should have the common sense to pick up while watching “[YTP] Caillou Loses His iPhone” or “Joker has trouble braking his c--- s--king habit” (as quoted in his article) that maybe these edits were made by some adolescent trying to be funny on his computer and not a predatory algorithm-gaming conglomerate.
But hey, he’s just a professional journalist working for a mainstream household news outlet....
Though only a few YTPs are mentioned by name (others are acknowledged in a blanket sense as “[videos using] Spongebob Squarepants or Peppa Pig”) this video is embedded in the article
Yes, Graham ultimately urges readers to accept that Youtube is not a secure place for parents to blindly let occupy their children, and this is right. In the video, he suggests turning on the age filter, and using app services by PBS Kids, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network as alternatives. It’s clear that the concern is over YouTube being a Wild West of content, and how people should be aware of that.
Makers of Youtube Poop could also stand to be more responsible, especially popular ones, by age restricting their own videos and putting content warnings in their channel and video descriptions. Nonetheless, despite the silly name, Youtube Poop encompasses a wide variety of sources, styles, and even levels of appropriateness (I haven’t even talked about the many editors who aspire to make clean content like Trudermark and DaThings1).
It would have been highly favorable for the writer to not have carelessly lumped these works in with mass produced content made for underhanded clickbait schemes, or at least not namedropped them implying insidious intention where there is none. There’s so much genuinely entertaining and tasteful content that falls under Youtube Poop, and I hate to think that it was all thrust into a bad light for so many USA Today readers for the sake of a point not related to it at all.
Real people, making things out of real creativity, don’t deserve to be maligned this way.
Edited by Nozdordomu