Subculture can be complicated and hard to explain. But few things can get quite as weird or inexplicable as internet subculture. Over the course of modern internet's relatively brief history, Youtube has become one of its most ubiquitous websites, and a huge cultural platform for the 21st century, particularly since it was purchased by Google in 2006. Within the boundaries of rules and censorship, the site has been used by millions for marketing and promotion, as a medium for news and information, for archival purposes, and perhaps most importantly as an opportunity for artistic expression. One of the more wild, controversial, (and in my opinion beautiful) types of expression that's evolved throughout Youtube's history comes in the form of a bizarre subcategory of Youtube videos known as Youtube Poops.
The gist of it:
Youtube Poops are, in essence, video mashups. They're created by taking pre-existing video sources and editing them, sometimes combining them with other different sources, into a video that's intended to be humorous. It can often be argued that these videos are intended as parody or satire, but that seems to vary from case to case. In most cases though, the intention is to create something more entertaining than the original video, but of course this depends on the viewer's sense of humor.
Every "pooper" has their own style and tendencies, as all individual artists do, and although some themes and techniques are common there are no consistent patterns or essential elements of a YTP. Topics can come from a myriad of sources including but not limited to popular TV shows (usually sitcoms or children shows, both live action and animated), movies, commercials and infomercials, game shows, documentaries, and instructional videos. Sports events are seldom used in YTPs, but "sports entertainment" programs (WWE, et al) are used somewhat.
Some possible early influences of what came to be YTP have more to do with video dubs than video edits. In the pre-Youtube era, Fensler Film's dubs of the G.I. Joe Public Service announcements were wildly popular on eBaum's World, and although these edits were purely audio edits, they were an early example of manipulating and recontextualizing a video for the sake of a more humorous video. It's hard to make a direct connection, but it's fair to say that many of the early poopers, and probably many current ones, were very aware of Fensler Films' work. A more direct line of dubbing parodies can be traced from the G.I. Joe PSAs, such as My Way Entertainment's "Juggernaut Bitch" videos, the "Abridged" series of cartoons such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dragonball Z, and Naruto, and even ADV Films' infamous English dub of the Japanese anime "Ghost Stories."
But the first ever YTP, created before the moniker YTP existed, was a video posted in November of 2006 by SuperYoshi called I'D SAY HE'S HOT ON OUR TAIL. It's not a very impressive poop, but it was the first, and it opened the door for some of the most creative users on Youtube to show their editing skills and warped minds. Here's a short list of some of the most notable poopers I've come to discover over the years and some of their work:
DurhamRockerZ is the gold standard of YTP. His poops are clever, funny, well-thought, and they're edited in such a way that they don't compromise the storyline and general premise of the material it's using, and it also focuses on the source that it's editing rather than bringing in a bunch of extraneous sources and references. He specializes in King of the Hill poops, here are two of his best.
cs188 is one of the more popular and well-known poopers out there, and I wouldn't hesitate to say that he's overrated. But his Spongebob Squarepants videos have gone over well, and poops like fingertits make a solid argument against my claim.
cjflo has some of the best audio editing skills of any pooper out there, which I tend to appreciate most. She has great instincts, and makes a lot of self-referential jokes so that more loyal and well-studied fans appreciate her work better. Her Fresh Prince of Bel-Air poops (example, example) including the epic 45 minute "Flesh Pinch of Ball Hair" which has since been removed and Bill Cosby show poops (example, example) are excellent.
EmpLemon is pretty hard to take. He doesn't hesitate to be particularly invasive and harsh, and tends to go on some pretty long-winded and self-righteous diatribes in some of his other videos. But a poop like ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (sound warning--obnoxiously loud) is both brilliant and redeeming, and although it's not entirely his material, his editing and contribution to the Rick and Morty collab is top-notch.
keeperofbeans/keeperofporridge is perhaps the most crass of all the poopers on this list. But once again, there's some excellent audio editing in his poops and he strikes a very good balance between being clever and intelligent and being spastic and crazy. His Thomas the Tank Engine poops are best, particularly Salty Synthesizers, and his multi-sourced "farewell" poop freerf is a gem.
These are some of the best, and a good place to start if you want to get started. That being said, I can't honestly recommend YTP to literally anyone, because I just can't expect that something like this would be appreciated except by the most morbid of minds. It's also safe to say that at least some of those links are NSFW, especially to those without headphones.
Here's where things get tangential/theoretical:
Some styles of funny videos can be likened, somewhat, to styles of music. Funny cat videos are like top 40 radio, "fail" or "thug life" videos are like classic rock, Vine/Worldstar compilations are like rap, "Dank Meme" comps are like underground hip hop, but YTPs are like jazz. YTPs are often dense, extreme, and very crude, an acquired tasted that's likely to be seen as inaccessible, especially upon first impression. But one is more likely to enjoy YTP, and jazz, if they're involved with a friend group that enjoys it and can relate to it and discuss it, and/or if they're into recreational psychedelic drugs.
But still, the most typical reaction to YTP is what the fuck is this shit? It is overstimulating by design, its humor is often based on the illogical, non sequiturs and red herrings and pieces that don't fit, and as I've mentioned it's very often crude, profane, sophomoric, and inappropriate. My own initial reaction to YTP was not a good one, but in my case I had a friend group that was very involved in YTP and its inside jokes, so I gave it a chance and got my foot in the door. Over time I came to be more open-minded about it, I watched enough YTP to develop my own taste, my own sense of what makes a quality YTP versus a mediocre one (see Sturgeon's law), and I came to appreciate it as a legitimate art form.
But what does validate an art form, if anything? If an oil painting can be considered artistic, then can't a collage of cut-outs from different magazines also be considered artistic? Why not? Is an "original" art form considered more reverent and respectable than a recreated or recontextualized art form, and if so why?
The debate concerning reverence and originality overlaps with one of the main issues involved with YTP, and the only reason which they could cause real controversy, which is the issue of copyright. As I mentioned before, YTPs are generally heavily edited versions of original content, and with the purpose of YTPs being to parody or satirize, one would think that YTPs would be protected under fair usage Copyright laws. But the reality of the issue is not so simple.
Earlier I compared YTP to jazz, but it honestly has more parallels with hip-hop. In the late 1980s and into the 90s hip-hop was revolutionized by the art of sampling. This reached a "boiling point" if you will at the end of the 80s with albums like 3 Feet High and Rising and Paul's Boutique, albums which would be impossible to make today. As the culture grew attached to the idea of literally re-using other music sources and stapling them together to create something new, lawmakers and copyright holders would intervene in the 90s in order to grab a piece of the pie (although they would tell you that it was to preserve the integrity of the original pieces) thereby changing the culture. It would become a regular part of the recording and production process (and still is) for a hip-hop album to have to "clear" the samples used in their songs by paying royalties to the original artists. It reached a point where paying to loop a 2-second clip from a song would cost an artist more money in royalties than paying to record a cover of the entire song. But sampling was and still is massively influential to the evolution of the style and creation of both rap and hip-hop, often in a high-profile way, such as Eminem's "Stan," and often controversially, such as Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby."
In the case of YTPs, there is no system in place to acknowledge or pay royalties to the original owners of content. Youtube's policy is to simply remove the video from the site if a copyright claim is made by a third party, and if enough copyright claims are made on content from a given user's Youtube account, their account is subject to termination. There have been many excellent Youtube Poops over the years that have been removed and fallen by the wayside because of copyright claims which, in theory, hold no weight under fair usage policies. This is just as heartbreaking as asamothing, and it's especially frustrating because of the fact that there seems to be no consistency regarding which videos are removed and which videos are not. It's a problem with no clear solution, because the problem itself is not all that clear.
Yeah, Youtube Poop is pretty weird. And at a glance, it's easy enough to dismiss YTP as being flavorless, holding no appeal to anyone who isn't young high and stupid. But many have said similar things about be bop, hentai pornography, and NASCAR, and they've all managed to find their niche audiences. And both the curators and consumers of those things want them to be respected and protected so that they can continue to be created and enjoyed. YTP is no different.
No actual references or citations to speak of, as this is hardly an academic subject. But I do have to give some credit to Wetfire's public draft on YTP. Some of the information is inaccurate, but it's only a draft, and it helped give me the impetus to write this.
Quick copyright disclaimer: I own none of the content referred to or linked to here.