The YouTube Effect | Movie Threat


TRIBECA FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Every new medium, be it radio, film, television, video games or now YouTube, has been accused of being a possible downfall for our young people and society in general. Is it different this time? Director Alex Winter latest documentary, The YouTube effect, gives us some insight into this matter while also offering insight into the history of the platform.

The film is not all dark. This shows us some of the positive aspects of YouTube. The site offers a treasure trove of information and entertainment for all genders and races while providing lucrative careers for people who otherwise couldn’t make it in the traditional media arena. We’re told that child star Ryan Kaji, of the hugely popular children’s show Ryan’s World, is on the Forbes list for earning twenty-two million dollars in 2018 alone. It’s the capitalist dream at his zenith.

“… the documentary focuses on some of the nightmares…”

The majority of the documentary focuses on some of the nightmares that come from the flip side of capitalism: greed and lack of empathy. Ironically, it all started after Google bought YouTube, with Google’s unofficial motto originally being “don’t be mean”. Andy Parker, father of former news anchor Alison Parker, says evil is exactly what they became after YouTube failed to remove multiple videos of his murdered daughter on live TV. As Andy says, it’s not like there’s a Google support number to call so they can easily help him with this problem. Worse, Andy isn’t the copyright holder of the video, so the company says he has no legal right to have the grisly reminder of his daughter’s death taken down. What about Google/YouTube?

Another major issue the film focuses on is the story of YouTuber Caleb Cain, who says that after searching the website for self-help videos, he was sucked down an “alt-rabbit hole.” right” by YouTube’s infamous algorithm that rewards objectionable content. The YouTube Effect shows how conspiracy ideology (which was amplified by popular videos the perpetrators discussed watching) led to disastrous results, with multiple fatal shootings, as well as hate groups like The Proud Boys staging the assault of January 6 on the capital. Cain says that after watching the videos that brainwashed him, he had lost his ability to empathize. That’s exactly what it takes to get someone on a mass murder spree.

There’s no way a ninety-eight-minute movie could delve into everything that’s happening with YouTube. Still, Alex Winter does a great job covering as many bases as possible within these time constraints. This film pairs well with some of Winter’s other documentaries that deal with different forms of media and show business, such as Uploaded, deep weband showbiz kids.

The YouTube Effect can be scary when you think about where technology is heading, but it’s worth taking the red pill –Matrix style.

The YouTube Effect screened at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival.


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