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Reacting to reaction vidoes

I have been pretty skeptical for a while now about most “reaction” videos on YouTube.

These videos seem to be less about whatever the people are reacting to and more about the reactions themselves. It’s a weird aspect of Modern Life that we seem to be unable to actually enjoy things on their own merits and seem to yearn instead to experience someone else’s reaction to them

If you watch enough of these videos—especially multiple reactions to the same piece of media—a lot of the same beats and tics tend to show up from one channel to the next. During the recent Star Wars Celebration, I went down something of a rabbit hole and while I didn’t keep specific track, I’d guess 90-95% of the reactions to the Ahsoka teaser trailer were nearly identical, down to the exact words the people used, how they said them, and when they said them.

Maybe some of the reactions are genuine, but my guess those are in the minority. I am especially suspicious of the “person hears/sees X for the first time” sub-genre, which seem like precision-guided munitions aimed at our nostalgia and our need to claw back that feeling of the first time we didn’t know the big plot twist.

I am doubly suspicious of the “hip-hop fan hears metal/classic rock song for the first time” sub-sub-genre. These reaction videos mostly seem aimed at reassuring aging white people that the music they like is, in fact, still cool.

As with so much “creator content” on YouTube, the subjects of most of these videos are largely irrelevant. The point is to get you watching and to keep you watching. Now SMASH THAT SUBSCRIBE BUTTON and post your thoughts down in the comments!

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