One of the great and frustrating things about the internet is that while it promises incredible depth and variety, it’s hard to get out of the shallows. Using the web in the early days elicited a sense of excitement and possibility that’s been circumscribed by brands, changes in search engine technology, and the natural human impulse to recoil at the sheer scope of the damned thing. Virality and word of mouth can help spread the little-seen, but they also threaten to create an echo chamber where the same content is passed around and around with fewer individuals contributing to the process of discovery. (No, the irony of writing that in this particular feature is not lost.) It takes real effort to plumb the internet’s inner reaches.
The DeepIntoYouTube subreddit offers a small corrective to that, encouraging users to post videos at least five months old and under 100,000 views at time of submission, like Petit Tube, but more curated. The results are full of weirdness and incoherence (just like the early web!), and allow for the occasional gem, like this transfixing vaporwave track, “3 Megabytes Of Hot RAM,” which is the YouTube equivalent of finding a rare single pressing at a stranger’s garage sale.
How much of DeepIntoYouTube is genuinely good is up for debate. One man’s genius rap album dedicated entirely to diss tracks of birds is another’s desultory kazoo cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises.” (There are, unsurprisingly, a lot of bad, weird covers of popular songs using non-traditional instruments in the forum.) Often, the best finds hit that sweet spot between awkwardness and earnestness that makes Everything is Terrible!’s found footage compelling, like this incredibly miscalibrated commercial for an Indian restaurant in an Ogden, Utah mall’s food court.
Like any good record dive, DeepIntoYouTube is about the journey as much as the destination. Just because that journey occasionally means watching entirely too many videos of a popular Ukrainian singer dubbed “The King Of The Dolphin Voice” or laughing at a child’s poorly edited basketball hype video doesn’t make it less gratifying.