This year’s YouTube Rewind just surpassed a Justin Bieber song to become the most-disliked video ever made on the platform. With over 10 million dislikes, the like-to-dislike ratio would seem to be a message from the fans to the company that the squeaky-clean, frenetically scripted attempt at positivity isn’t what they want.
Within hours of the video first dropping last week, critical videos began cropping up. Some re-edited the video to just include YouTubers they recognized — presumably to make some kind of point about the relative obscurity of some of the creators compared with the ones who weren’t there. Others posted lengthy reviews explaining what was wrong with the video — including Marques Brownlee, who was in the video. Basically, throw a stone in the digital space and you’ll find someone who didn’t like YouTube Rewind 2018 and wants to explain why.
When I first watched this year’s Rewind — and wrote about it — the video had literally just dropped, and the dislike ratio was, if not small, at least respectably-sized. I could tell from the comments that there was some disappointment over the apparent exclusion of several prominent YouTubers, and the unusual inclusion of others.
While the message those ‘Tubers who did appear seemed to be a fairly positive one — celebrating the diversity of the communities on the platform — there’s no doubt that, for many, it rang hollow with the exclusion of the actual big events and people who made up the bulk of YouTube’s biggest stories this year.
For example, take Logan Paul: Paul began the year with the Aokigahara scandal, one of the grubbiest acts ever committed by a high profile star on its platform, but his fight with KSI in August was a massive draw to YouTube’s pay-per-view platform. You can almost picture an avatar of YouTube weighing on a physical scale whether they’ll get more hate if they include Paul or just fail to mention him.
Another example would be Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg, whose insensitive and offensive remarks both last year and this year mean his name is probably mud with YouTube, even if he is still their most popular figure. Multiple YouTubers have spoken about YouTube’s internal emphasis on Rewind as a piece of company propaganda, and Kjellberg would hamstring its ability to peddle the video to advertisers.
But regardless, the fact is, the title of the video is “YouTube Rewind.” It’s probably inevitable that leaving the biggest stories about YouTube out of a video that’s ostensibly about things that happened on YouTube this year out would rub so many viewers the wrong way.