When a very bored SuperYoshi first opened Windows Movie Maker and made I’d Say He’s Hot on Our Tail back in 2004 and later uploaded Sonic and Robotnik's sodomy hour! to YouTube in 2006, he had no idea that the private joke between him and RetroJape would unwittingly light a spark that would create an entire medium of video editing and internet entertainment. YouTube Poop is now over a decade old and still going strong, despite some nostalgic curmudgeons insisting that it died back in 2009, waggling their canes at the foolish kids from the New Wave period (2010-present) who have kept the wheel turning to this very day. But how did Poop manage to achieve this? How, after ten years has it continued to thrive where other internet fads and trends have since risen and died out after just a year or two? Personally, I believe the answer lies within the very nature of Poop itself.
The most important rule about YouTube Poop is that, objectively, it has none. While some throughout the years have tried their best to slap a definition on it based on their personal tastes and subjectivity, Poop, from the very beginning, lacked any sense of definition which allowed for it to grow and develop throughout the years. When SuperYoshi and the first set of poopers we know as the Founders (The Pope, JingWu, 1upclock, Yaminoalex, Dr Strangebutts, RetroJape, DukeofFortuneMan and Tetsuo9999) started mucking around with it, they each brought something new to the table: Repeats, Forward-Reversing, Stutter Loop, Sentence-Mixing, Speed-Up/Slow-Down, Pitch-Shifting, Ear Rape, Scrambling and many other poopisms, which were then enhanced by the Boomer generation shortly after and has only continued to transform ever since. While a certain array of unique editing techniques have become synonymous with the medium, there has been no limit to how said techniques can be utilised, which only encourages experimentation with existing techniques and the opportunity to introduce new ones. Aside from its unique editing quirks and rebellious, mischievous nature, Poop’s complete and utter disregard for labels and need to be defined has allowed it to stretch out far beyond what it was founded upon. What began as a simple dumb in-joke between two friends grew into a way to troll people on YouTube with misleading titles and deliberately bad, annoying editing and continued to mutate into a greater, weirder beast of freedom and creativity we know today.
Throughout its strange decade of wacky hijinks, poopers from all walks of life would come into the fray, contributing their own sources, techniques, editing sensibilities, humour styles and their own brand of abstract nonsense that has continued to inspire new poopers today. When it began, editing styles were simplistic as there was only so much one could do with Windows Movie Maker, at least for the time. It would take a few years before people like DaftPunkYoshi and Metroid998 would demonstrate what humble WMM could really do when pushed to its limits. Before then, the easiest and undoubtedly most iconic poopisms were formed with SuperYoshi leading the charge with his own personal obsession with Speed-Up/Slow-Downs, which he would later state in an interview with Stuart K Reilly as, "always the funniest thing ever to me." From 2007 to 2009, the other famed poopisms that would become ubiquitous with Poop today soon followed with Stutter Loops, Forward-Reversing, Pitch-Shifting, Scrambling and the always controversial EAR RAPE!
At the beginning of the 2010s when the Classic Period (2006-2009) ended, some came to regard this period as a dark age where YouTube Poop fell into a creative slump, or just flat out considered it "dead" as many of the big name poopers of the Classic period began to peter out, leave, go on hiatus or simply vanish. On the contrary though, 2010 became the start of something new. The established poopers still around began to experiment with morphing poopisms, experimenting with pacing speed and effects plugins and the new approach and editing sensibilities of new poopers was introduced, thus the New Wave was born, injecting new life and ideas into the medium. With new people flooding in and much fancier editing software in the likes of Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere (which have since become the most reliable workhorse editors most poopers swear by) being available, along with effects plugins and techniques like masking, chroma-keying and greenscreening; YouTube Poop was able to flourish to technically-impressive heights of zaniness that couldn't be achieved before in humble Windows Movie Maker. These new and much more powerful tools allowed poopers to truly test their creativity and push things to new heights the likes of which nobody has seen before as people relished the opportunity .
The New Wave pooping style rejected the old sensibility of making YouTube Poops look terrible on purpose and ignored the old idea that "Poops have to be funny" which would plant the seed of what would become the Experimental side of Poop with poopers like LinkOnDrugs and MycroProcessor pathing the way with their own methods of transforming visuals into something far removed from what people considered a YouTube Poop at the time. This would influence many poopers old and new alike to begin experimenting with different programs and creating erosion techniques by utilising new effects plugins. This in turn would revolutionise YouTube Poop Tennis, which too, had been in a slump around this time. By experimenting on what could be achieved in Poop and combined with the techniques of tennis, poopers began going beyond what was considered the conventional norm at the time and pushed the very limits of their editing software and creativity. Poopers began to not only repurpose source footage to new lengths, but also began adding their own original works such as adding their own music, drawing extra frames of animation, creating little sprites of themselves and reference each other in tennis matches, experimenting with storytelling by taking a page from the Flash poops from the Classic Era and taking it even further with more complicated and nuanced editing that the new software could allow them to bring their ideas to life. A dark age? Bullshit, mate, it was a fucking renaissance!
Poop’s lack of definition truly paved the way for its many forms and styles to take fruition. Had it been the other way, Poop as we know it today would cease to exist and everything from varying styles, techniques, even methods such as Poop Tennis and YouTube Poop Music Video aka YTPMV, Flash Poops, Story-based Poops and Experimental Poops would’ve never been introduced to flesh out the medium and keep it from sinking into the depths of obscurity. Just like any other form of creative media such as literature, film, video games and even basic art in general, the ongoing exchange of ideas and artistic sensibilities from many individuals throughout the years have kept it alive and its lack of hard lined definition, rules and principles continue to propel it forward into new and interesting territories. I truly believe if Poop had of been created with very specific rules, it really would've faded into the background and all those wet-blankets who insist post-2009 poopers are beating a dead horse would be right on the money.
Poop’s freeing nature also acts as a fingerprint of each individual who partakes in it as no two YouTube Poops are the same. Sure, they may share some things stylistically, influences from previous poopers, or just on the very basic points such as sharing the same source or perhaps making a similar joke or exploiting a specific scene. However, each individual pooper’s curiosities, humour and editing sensibilities are evident throughout their work as Poop’s very nature allows them to do what they want, however they want it. There is no right or wrong way to make a YouTube Poop because there is nothing to point back to as a point of deviation from the norm. Poop itself is a deviation from all norms by completely defying convention on every perceived level. In a nutshell, because of its complete disregard for convention or principle and relying solely on individual taste-both from pooper and viewer-combined with the Death of the Author theory, it can be argued that Poop is one of the most liberated forms of art today. Just about every other art form can be boiled down to a specific set of principles that define it, but Poop for the most part however does not.
Now, for some, it could be argued that, "If it defies all definition, why do we bother calling our specific videos Poops?" which is a very good question. For me personally, I draw the line at the use of technique. If I don’t see a single classic editing technique akin to Poop itself in a video, that’s when I consider said video to not be a YouTube Poop. Naturally, others will have their own opinion on this matter as well because of Poop’s undefinable nature and honestly, that’s the beauty of Poop right there. It will never be pegged down, always be debated, always be experimented with and always spark someone’s interest. The combination of its undefinable and rebellious nature, lack of concrete rules that encourage experimentation and utter disdain for conventional artistry is what I believe has kept it alive for the past decade and will continue to breathe new life in it for the foreseeable future.