Hatred is big business. In the past year or so I have been introduced to a side of YouTube that I never knew existed but one that I found myself in on a regular basis in light of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power (RoP). I’ve mentioned it on and off in a few of my other posts but today would like to dedicate a bit more digital ink to the topic.
I’ll be the first to put my hand up and say that from what I have seen so far, I am not particularly looking forward to the show but I still have a sliver of hope that it will deliver an entertaining show at the very least, whether it really feels like The Lord of the Rings or not. Many people believe that it will steer too far from the book (and it will, it has to) and that this will somehow make people think that the stories and characters in the show were created by Tolkien himself. This is of course not true, and I don’t think people will really care all too much once the show is said and done. Just look at Game of Thrones. Will it have the same lasting effect as Peter Jacksons’ trilogy? I will confidently say ‘no’. Does it really matter that Galadriel will be a sword-wielding warrior? No, not really.
I wrote a little bit about this is a post a few months back. If you’re interested, click here. You can also read about my general opinion of the current state of The Lord of the Rings in popular culture right now here.
My opinion of her character has not changed much, although the Empire magazine front cover image of Galadriel was really unfortunate. On second look, perhaps it’s not all that bad but it just feels inappropriate to her character.
Now before this turns into another blog post on RoP, I’ll jump into the main topic of this post. While RoP is where it started, it’s far from where it ended. Like starting on weed and then upgrading to cocaine or LSD (or whatever your class A drug of choice is), I soon found myself looking for more videos of the same vein, i.e. those that are centred mainly around hatred. That hatred can come from both ‘sides’, whether it be left or right but what I found was more leaning to the right than the left.
I realised I had a problem when YouTube started recommending me videos from GB News, Matt Walsh, Australian News and the like despite watching nothing connected to those channels as far as I was aware, and whose main content is focused on riling up its audience into some kind of hateful frenzy. Now, I should say that in many cases I can actually agree with what is said but I don’t necessarily agree with how they give their opinions or provide information. I am slightly conservative and I am slightly traditionalist in many ways but I believe in fair treatment and discussion and love to hear other people’s opinions.
The Hate Parade
Keeping with pop culture (as I really want to avoid social issues at this time), as I dug deeper into YouTube I was being introduced to random YouTubers who weren’t even that popular, but were being backed by larger ones to further their agenda and style of content. One leads to another and before you know it, all you’re watching is people (usually men but not exclusively) complaining and spewing hatred about something. The YouTube algorithm really was pulling its weight there.
Every time I went onto YouTube, that’s all it would recommend me. The latest hate towards whatever is popular right now. Without wanting to be too presumptive, I quickly got the impression that many of these YouTubers were complaining about things which they probably knew very little about but chose to jump on the bandwagon and somehow slip into the hatred stream to hopefully be picked up by a passer-by along the way.
These can come in two different forms. Those that genuinely come off as fans of said franchise and those with little to no knowledge of them, but just ‘know’ that it’s bad because such-and-such said so. Ryan Kinel is a perfect example of this. When he first popped up on my feed, I watched a few videos and kind of enjoyed what said about RoP, although I instantly figured he didn’t really know much about The Lord of the Rings and often mentioned more knowledgeable YouTubers in his videos. The more I watched of his videos, the more I realised that it’s all just hate. Looking at the comments and views, it’s obvious that it’s a popular genre of content to make and I am sure he makes a pretty penny from it.
Disparu is one that has in recent months become very popular and is based purely on visceral critique of TV shows and movies in popular culture that are based off an original work. RoP, Halo, Star Wars to name a few, he basically hates everything that is being released right now with very little positive to say. Many of his videos are an hour or more long, slamming an episode of something from start to finish. I am not against critique. In fact, everything that I have seen of the new Obi-Wan Kenobi show has been pretty bad and uninteresting, but would I spend hours of my life to produce a video just to vent my hatred of a 30-minute episode? Er, no. Am I upset that a character I like is being treated in such a disappointing way and a lot of the focus is being taken away from him in favour of new characters in a so-called ‘bait and switch’? I guess. I’d much rather just move on, but I understand that this doesn’t make money.
If it’s done creatively, it can actually be a genuine form of entertainment. The Angry Video Game Nerd of Cinemassacre for example, creates well thought out videos on old video games that are nigh impossible to play and you can tell that he put a lot of effort into putting together his criticism and he’s not coming from the angle of hatred or trying to create dysphoria. There is also enough content of his love of games and movies to balance it out and give more credence to where his critiques.
The Critical Drinker, while very critical of a lot, has a similar balance of positive and negative and most of his criticism comes from the milking of franchises and poor writing, which I totally agree with.
George R.R. Martin picked up on this in a recent interview of his, where he stated that he couldn’t understand how people can grow to hate something they used to love so much. It is sad, but I find it confusing that he can’t see that side of the argument at all. I will agree, however, that it is a bit odd that the hatred is so strong. I can only put it down to the ability to profit from it and cause fractures in the fan base. There is no reason to hate George R.R. Martin, but he himself has come under attack for the HateTubers. (I just made that up while editing – pretty good, eh?)
Changing Times and Minds
Back in the days of magazines and newspapers, reviews probably only took up a couple of paragraphs or a page at best, but now those with too much time on their hands have the opportunity to create epics, nit-picking every little thing about the franchise that they supposedly love. So much so, that some will go frame for frame of an episode and criticise the odd bad CGI or perhaps a small but noticeable mistake and spend a good couple of minutes lambasting the creators for it. This is a little too much. Should I really care that the CGI guys missed putting a skin on what is obviously a cardboard gun in a split second shot? I might have sniggered at the mistake, but Christ, no.
I wish I still had my younger mind. I would jump on the change to rewind my brain five or six years where I genuinely didn’t care if an actor of a certain ethnicity was cast in a particular role, which is a common ‘critique’ that pops up in many of these videos. The first time I remember wearing my ‘race glasses’ as I shall call them, was probably when Midsomer Murders had its first black character. That caused a bit of a stir over a decade ago, as the argument went that it would take away the ‘Englishness’ of the show.
When I was a little kid, I remember a lot of shows I watched with characters of multiple ethnicities and never cared at all. It’s true that this kind of stuff is learned, and I think it can only take one person to point it out for people to start seeing the same thing. That show in particular became a game of ‘spot the ethnic minority character’ which genuinely makes me sad. The exact same argument is now being used ten years later for RoP, but for slightly different reasons.
The notion of ‘forced diversity’ is a contentious one in popular culture, which I do not want to discuss here, but only use as an example of a topic that YouTubers (sorry, HateTubers) use to create discontent with fans.
In closing, I realise that there may be some irony in me spending a few hours to write a piece on this while at the same time criticising those who spend their time (albeit probably a lot more) on creating content but I would like to think that this is something a bit more constructive and a better use of my time. I also understand that people have different opinions and no-one can force anyone to like anything (which is a reasonable attack on the ‘left’ who accuse anyone of disliking anything a racist, sexist, etc.) but there is so much more to life and filling it up with every opportunity to spread hatred and discord on something which really has little to no impact on everyday life, is a waste and unhealthy in my eyes.
I wonder how many times I have to select ‘Don’t recommend this channel’ before YouTube realises that I don’t want to see it in my feed.
That’s all I‘ve got this time.
Thank you for reading, as always.