We write a lot about video essays. A lot. As fans of pop culture, it can be fun for us to see someone take a deep, obsessive dive into a film, TV show, pop culture trend, or genre. But, what if video essays, specifically those that trade in well-polished film analysis, are actually bad? That’s the thesis put forward by YouTuber BluShades in a recent video—ironically presented in the video essay format.
The main thrust of BluShades’ argument is that, while essays from YouTube mainstays like The Nerdwriter, Lindsay Ellis, and Lessons From The Screenplay are all extremely well produced, they may just be gussied up opinion pieces. The danger in this is that the analysis contained in those videos is taken as fact by the viewer because of the convincingly academic delivery. Rather than present an analysis of a creator’s work as the end-all, be-all interpretation, BluShades would prefer if video essayists leaned more towards subjective analysis rather than relying on a bunch of cliché techniques and analyses learned from other video essays.
This isn’t necessarily a new criticism. Over the years, there have been theorists who opposed the reliance on rigid, academic analysis as the only way to discuss art—Susan Sontag’s essay “Against Interpretation” being one example. After watching the umpteenth 20-minute video breaking down every single one of David Fincher’s shots, the draw of the subjective becomes a bit more understandable. Still, it remains to be seen how interesting it would be to watch a bunch of videos of people saying, “Here is a movie I saw and here is why I liked it.” Maybe the answer, like with most things, lies somewhere in the middle.
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