Everybody's Selling Four Hours Of Something

Everybody's Selling Four Hours Of Something

I am an old man and today's Internet makes me very tired. Allow me to yell at a passing cloud for a minute.

Jenny Nicholson is a pro gamer/influencer who recently posted a video about Disney's now closed Star Wars-themed hotel. I'm told it's very good (the video, that is. The hotel was apparently not that great).

This post is not about Jenny Nicholson. It's only tangentially about the video.

The video is four hours long.

Prior to this, Harry "HBomberguy" Brewis, a Youtube commenter of longstanding, made a video exploring plagiarism in general and how one notorious film Youtuber was guilty of said plagiarism in particular.

That video was also four hours long.

I'm told both of these videos are very good - in fact, masterworks of their craft. HBomberguy in particular once made a video about Gamergate goons which had me laughing for a solid half an hour (skulls were involved).

That video was not four hours long.

A bit of Internet history as an introduction: Facebook, during the period (specifically, around 2015) when it was so dominant a social media network that it drove most traffic to other websites, once decided that text-based news was not as "sticky" as news in video format, and communicated that to the various journalistic outlets trying desperately to get the attention of Facebook viewers. The result was called, sometimes seriously as a command and sometimes jokingly as a curse, "pivot to video". Every major news outlet - cable news, newspapers, wire services, what have you - suddenly became video broadcasters, whether they wanted to or not, because Facebook said it was necessary (metrics proved it!) and it was the only way to avoid mass layoffs and the collapse of their companies.

Facebook was lying. The statistics it quoted to broadcasters were quite literally wrong - users were not in fact demanding more video journalism. And the broadcasters who pivoted to videos suffered mass layoffs anyway.

Fast forward about ten years, and journalism outside of a few tentpoles is an utter zombie wasteland, as is, well, Facebook itself. Everyone pivoted right out of a job and most websites these days are SEO-driven nightmares written either by laughably underpaid interns or the AIs "hired" to replace them.

So, now there's Youtube.

Youtube is one of the few places on the Internet where people still make money; while Internet advertising is a sinkhole of clickbait and repetitive appeals to retiring seniors on where to invest their millions in savings, it still pays enough to make posting videos something approaching an actual living.

Not a good one, mind you, for the vast majority of people. But better than flipping burgers. You could subsist, barely, off a million and a half people a month watching your videos.

But no one dreams of subsistence. They dream of being this jerk.

Asmongold Pinpoints His Top Concern with Starfield

Asmongold (no, I don't know his real name, nor do I particularly want to) has made a very profitable career off of being a complete dipshit online. Originally famous for being precisely the sort of raider in World of Warcraft you tried to avoid, he has since branched out to other games and topics, most recently mocking anti-Zionist university protesters for being beaten by police.

And he makes more money than you or I ever will - about $4,000 a video, at a guess. And he posts a lot of videos. One every three to six hours, to be exact.

Each with a clickbait title, each with an engagement-driving thumbnail of Asmongold reacting, usually with some variation of "how can it be this stupid".

And that's just one channel. He has five.

What does this result in? To quote a streaming news site:

As mentioned above, Asmongold is able to generate around 80 million views on his YouTube content on a monthly basis, and thus this should translate into earnings of around $160-200k per month. Additionally, Asmongold is also one of the founding members of the gaming organization “One True Kind.” Hence, he is expected to earn a decent amount from his role in the organization alongside his various sponsorship related earnings.
Overall, Asmongold’s yearly earnings are estimated to be between $2.5 to 3 million every year. This includes his earnings from the various social media platforms he is active on, along with other sponsorships/brand deals that he has signed.

Meanwhile when I yell at people online, I don't make a dime. Clearly monetization is failing me.

Fine, Lum, you're saying to yourself, Youtube is a wasteland and everything is horrible, but why are you mad at some perfectly nice lady's four hour long video? Or, more to the point, why are people posting four hour long videos, and why does this make you (me, Lum, the writer) irrationally angry?

Well, the easiest answer to why people post four hour long videos is "it makes getting monetized on Youtube easier." Youtube's monetization requirements are based, in part, on how long viewers watch your content. Longer videos, quicker validation of monetization. But that's obviously not a consideration in this case; Hbomberguy has been making videos for over a decade and gets millions of views. Jenny Nicholson's Star Wars hotel video has almost 600,000 views as of this writing and has not been up for a full day.

Another answer is "it manipulates the Youtube algorithm in your favor". If you sit and watch, say, Nick Fuentes complain about how the Jews made him stream gay porn for hours, you'll get more barely-closeted Nazis in your Youtube recommendations. But not only does this not explain Nick Fuentes (who, mercifully, is no longer on Youtube thanks to being a blatant Nazi), it also doesn't explain our two examples, who, especially in Nicholson's case, don't have a political agenda to drive.

Honestly, I think the best answer is "because they can". Youtube video creators almost always act as their own editors. And when you edit yourself, you never trim content to make it easier for others to view or read (say, when someone is typing out a screed about Youtube videos and looks over to see he's already typed over 1000 words on the subject). You add more. There's always more!

But, and we get to the crux of why I am this guy this morning:

Old Man Yells at Cloud, the Simpsons Cross Stitch Pattern PDF INSTANT  DOWNLOAD - Etsy

When you expect me to watch a video for four hours, you are not being respectful of my time.

Yes, I know, many people look on these long-form productions as, say, podcasts to be viewed while working, or playing a game, or what have you. I'm not one of those people. When I'm working, or playing a game, I'm, uh, doing that. I can't even really divide my attention enough to listen to an audio podcast, much less one with video.

And I simply don't have the time to devote four hours to an epic takedown of how bad the Star Wars Experience Hotel was. I'm sorry. I don't. I don't have the time to dedicate four hours to listen to Hbomberguy explain how plagiarism drives Youtube. I'm sure he's made many fine points, and I hope to hear them someday in a format accessible to me.

If a movie is four hours long, it's criticized, usually, as a director's epic sense of entitlement or loss of perspective; the four hour movies that are actually successful, such as Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies, are still examples of this fatal bloat. Return of the King was a fantastic treatment of Tolkien's masterwork, and literally everyone joked about how it had twelve endings.

There has to be a happy medium somewhere between manic thirty second TikTok loops about Donghua Jinlong's industrial grade glycine and four hour long videos about how Marxism has never actually been tried. And as long as Youtube is one of the only segments of the Internet that still gives people money, someone will no doubt find that out.

Meanwhile, I'll still occasionally type things into a bl0g-by-any-other-name and refuse to monetize it, because I still remember when people wrote things because they wanted to and not as a desperate hedge against the collapse of late-stage capitalism.

And when people post four hour long videos, I'll continue to react like this.