Everyone has a different niche of social media that they inhabit, and mine is for sure the video essay and commentary channel sectors of YouTube. I know, I know — creators sitting in front of their computers and talking about/over viral videos or popular topics isn’t exactly everyone’s forte when it comes to the type of media they like to consume in their free time. However, considering I am both an Entertainment & Media Studies (EMST) and Communication Studies double-major with a minor in Women’s Studies, discussions are pretty much my whole life right now. I have always loved hearing other people’s thoughts and opinions on certain pop culture phenomena or political topics.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with video essays, essentially, they are videos that “analyze a specific topic, theme, person or thesis” and “aim to persuade, educate, or critique” (Studiobinder). On another note, a YouTube commentary channel consists of a person talking about any media text or a viral topic and providing their thoughts on the matter. These videos “tend to be very simple, often with screen-grabbed footage of the creator playing a game, drawing something, or speaking to camera, interspersed with screenshots/footage of the topic of the video” (WeAreCoolr.com).
Not many people in my social circles are avid watchers of these kinds of videos like myself, and I’ve been trying so hard to get people to appreciate them as much as I do. So, I thought I’d share some of my favorite video essay and commentary channels on YouTube to spread the word about these fantastic (and often hilarious) content creators! Check them out when you can!
- ada on demand
Ada is a 22 year-old law student who creates social commentary and critique videos, most of which discuss topics such as race and gender in pop culture.
- Casey Aonso
Casey Aonso is a 23 year-old Canadian YouTuber who often makes videos on YouTuber scandals and drama as well as social commentary on media targeted towards young adult audiences, such as Tik Tok and film/television.
- Cheyenne Lin
Cheyenne Lin is an Asian American YouTuber living in Brazil who often makes video essays about films and pop culture through a feminist and racial lens.
Courtreezy is a 23-year old YouTuber who mostly makes reactionary and commentary videos, especially in the realms of influencer and celebrity drama.
- Danny Gonzalez
Originally starting out on Vine, 27-year old Danny Gonzalez is known for his commentary videos on bizarre internet trends and viral videos, in addition to comedy sketches and satirical music videos.
Defunctland’s channel is dedicated to creating video essays discussing the history of extinct theme parks and themed entertainment experiences, as well as television shows that have gone off the air.
- Drew Gooden
Much like Danny Gonzalez, (but don’t get them confused!), 27-year old Drew Gooden is a former Vine personality who now makes comedic commentary and reactionary videos.
- Eddy Burback
24-year old Eddy Burback mostly makes commentary videos covering a range of topics including bad movies, YouTube drama, and social or cultural phenomena.
- Friendly Space Ninja
Despite having just joined YouTube in the beginning of 2021, Friendly Space Ninja has amassed over 17 million views across their channel, which is dedicated to critiquing and commentating on films and television series.
With series such as Multi Level Mondays, Corporate Casket, Prism of the Past, and Weird Wild World, iilluminaughtii creates video essays centered on social commentary and analysis on popular media.
- Khadija mbowe
Gambian-Canadian-American artist Khadija Mbowe describes themselves as a “cool, fun, young millennial aunty,” and they create videos of social, cultural, and political commentary, especially through the lenses of race and gender.
- Kurtis Conner
27-year old Canadian commentary YouTuber and stand-up comedian Kurtis Conner is known for his hilariously edited videos covering a range of topics such as bizarre television shows and social media content creators.
- Madisyn Brown
Madisyn Brown, though having started posting videos regularly on YouTube about two years ago, has garnered over 7 million channel views by posting vlog, advice, and opinion videos on her channel.
Self-described as being an “an ode to female-focused media,” the YouTube channel ModernGurlz produces a variety of video essays focused on media targeted to young women, especially from the early- to mid-2000s.
22 year-old American YouTuber, Twitch Streamer, and musician Nickisnotgreen is known for his commentary videos on internet culture and social media influencers, as well as comedy sketches and musical parodies.
- Pop Culture Detective
Hosted by Jonathan McIntosh, Pop Culture Detective produces video essays that look at entertainment media through a critical lens via the intersections of politics and gender.
Shanspeare’s channel is predominantly focused on topics covering media at the intersections of race, class, and gender, but she also posts fashion videos on her channel as well.
- Tee Noir
Tee Noir describes her channel as being about “culture, commentary, and Black womanhood,” and her channel does in fact cover those topics, specifically going deeper into subjects such as colorism and sexuality.
- The Take
Perhaps one of the more highly recognized YouTube video essay channels, The Take produces videos discussing and critiquing popular movies and television shows, as well as provides a definition and an analytical lens into character tropes and stereotypes.
Tiffany Ferguson is a 25 year-old American YouTuber based in NYC, whose channel hosts the Internet Analysis series, where Ferguson researches and discusses topics related to social issues and media.
And if you’re worried about longer videos keeping your attention span, don’t worry; I was in the same boat. When it comes to video essayists and commentary YouTubers, it’s all about finding those whose personalities and video styles you like! There’s someone and something out there for everyone.