Youtube hasn’t always been the colletion of high-production-value skits and aesthetically-pleasing intro montages set to pretty girl EDM it is today. Before the ring lights and the thousand dollar cameras, before #ads and PR packages, Youtube was just a bunch of weirdos talking into their webcams, messing around with Adobe Flash, and using copyrighted music. I love new Youtube, clearly, but something about old Youtube gets me nostalgic. It was more random then, less polished, content to just be…
I was a freshman in high school in 2007, still partially in my artsy/alternative/black clothes/wonderwall-by-Oasis-on-repeat phase. I make fun of my fourteen-year-old self a lot (and, really, for good reason) but I have to admit, there was something sincere about her. And she had great taste. I had a huge crush on Ryan Higa back then and, unlike other celebrity crushes, it seemed almost in the realm of attainable. After all, I lived on Oahu, he was still living on the Big Island, and he reminded me a lot of the guys I grew up with. This was before he got 17 million youtube subscribers, moved to the mainland, and became basically the prince of Youtube (I don’t watch the Vlogbrothers, but I don’t have to in order to recognize they’re the reigning kings).
Well, I missed my (nonexistent) chance with Ryan, but it’s still fun to look back on what he used to be. (There is a problematic joke in the original, but he kind of fixed it in his remake).
The great thing about walking down Youtube memory lane is that everything that was kind of cool back then is almost unbelievable now. In 2008, Miley Cyrus and her friend Mandy Jiroux had a youtube channel where they made weird webcam vlogs.
Do you think Miley ever does the Hoedown Throwdown for her own amusement when no ones watching? I would if I were her.
No. It gets better. The choreographer from Step Up 2 challenged them to an online dance battle that led to a star-studded back and forth, including appearances from Lindsay Lohan, Adam Sandler, David Blaine, and Channing Tatum.
By 2009, FilmCow had already given us Charlie the Unicorn and I’d already spent a good part of my lunch breaks trying to convince my friends to buy me a unicorn hand puppet while doing the annoying voice of the organ-stealing unicorns. Then it provided us with the glory that is Llamas with Hats. Don’t bother with 1, I’ve skipped you right to 2.
(Yes, Youtube’s transformation from generally just ‘weird and random’ to ‘cutesy-weird and obsessed with aesthetics’ does make the perfect metaphor for my personal coming-of-age narrative.)
Every so often, I remember that this song exists and I immediately get it stuck in my head. This hails from the era where auto-tuning things meant instant success. The original turtle fence speech can be found here if you want to know how turtle fences actually related to health care (spoilers: very tangentially). I shared this with my roommate a few days ago. It still inspires instant joy in those who hear it. You’re welcome.
Old Youtube really was fantastic, but I haven’t spent the last month just dwelling in nostalgia. My newest favorite is a star in the making, and my recent trips down memory lane have helped me realize why.
Taylor Nicole Dean is astonishingly gorgeous. It would be easy to imagine her making a beauty/lifestyle vlog and living it up at Coachella with all the other beautiful youtubers (no shade, I love them too). Instead, she’s a full-time pet mom. She mixes in her EDM-y montages of fish tanks with detailed knowledge of how to set up a crested gecko enclosure or bathe your hedgehogs. She does collaborations with the reptile subculture of Youtube (including, very recently, SnakeBytesTV Brian from my last post and the guy who made a wheelchair for a goldfish). Also, she has a cowfish named Cheese who’s an instant classic.
There’s some old school Youtube in her. She rambles on unapologetically in her introductions, she wears Juicy Couture Lost Angeles Hoodies with decorative corsets instead of waist trainers, and she gives her animals text-to-speech voices. Her sense of humor is awkward and wonderful and she gives me hope for Youtube’s future.
And on that note, I hope your day is utterly unproductive as you explore the extra weirdness of old Youtube and the wonder that is Taylor Nicole Dean.
Bonus video: Never forget that Daniel Radcliffe can rap Blackalicious’ Alphabet Aerobics.
Kim is a law student with a very much intact childlike sense of wonder. She lives in D.C. and spends lots of time introducing her friends to weird hobbies and interests. It is only a matter of time before she is declared a national treasure. See what she’s up to on instagram @kimmism101