It is, at this point, a torturous conclusion that the next several months will be spent mostly inside. As school starts back up and most of us resume classes, most of which are online, it seems that unless our jobs take us from the “comfort” of our own living room, we’ll barely have the chance to escape the confines of our four walls.
Much as can be projected from prior pandemics and by health experts working on vaccines, we’ll be forced to live either inside or under masks until next spring, at the earliest.
That being said, between work, school, and the all-encompassing solitude of living during a pandemic, entertainment has become the best way to take a peek at the world outside and get the smallest respite from the long quiet.
With that being said, as a 32-year-old man I have taken to, of all things, consistently watching YouTube, on top of the books, movies, music and other forms of entertainment I’ve engaged with as a sanctuary since movie theaters went out of practice back in February.
So, without further adieu, here are some of the YouTube channels that have kept me company during the pandemic.
(A breakdown of how Trump answers a question, and how the simpleness of it makes for an effective tool in convincing supporters to his cause, no matter how absurd. Source: YouTube/Nerdwriter1)
Hosted by Evan Puschak, a former multimedia editor for MSNBC, Puschak’s channel regularly produces well-researched, concise videos breaking down everything from film to music, art, and photography. Each video explores, to my knowledge, things that are somewhat new, taking on subjects as common as the Harry Potter films to the way Trump answers questions and even more obscure subjects like the “vase shot” in famed Japanese filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu’s “Late Spring,” and comic book writer Alan Moore’s run of “Marvelman.”
No matter your taste, or what you’re interested in, Nerdwriter has a video you’d probably enjoy on that subject with truly great insight on each subject.
(Hawaii was once an independent kingdom before it became a U.S. state. Find out how and why we have a famous banana company to blame for it. Source: YouTube/Johnny Harris)
Johnny Harris used to be a contributor on the news media outlet Vox, often tackling subjects regarding geography and culture in a series called “Borders.” In each episode, he tackled such diverse subjects as the history of British rule in Hong Kong to how India runs the world’s largest election, to why Norway is full of Teslas.
His own channel, just simply named after himself, he tackles that and more. In a recent video, he explored the origins of the American breakfast (FYI, the rest of the world mostly doesn’t have designated foods for breakfast). In other videos, he explores how the U.S. stole vast swaths of land from Mexico, why people think the world is flat and why the United Kingdom is on the center of most maps (Hint: Eurocentrism!).
(Did you know that the classic epic poem by John Milton was almost made into a movie? Yeah, me neither. Source: YouTube/Supervoid Cinema)
This is a channel I’m somewhat new to and thus consequently haven’t watched as many of the videos. That being said, for fans of film this is definitely a channel that is worth taking a look at.
In each video, the host gives a blow-by-blow explanation of movie adaptations that never were, why they were dreamed up, and what caused their failure. For example, in one video we’re retold the entire history of the Darren Aronofsky Batman movie that never came to fruition, which was based on Frank Miller’s seminal “Year One” graphic novel. The Aronofsky script for “Year One” was apparently so dark that even Frank Miller, a comic writer infamous for dark material, suggested it was too dark. Other subjects include an Edgar Allen Poe film that was supposed to star Sylvester Stallone, a series of canceled He-Man movies and a Martin Scorsese directed biopic about Frank Sinatra.
(Do the dumb decisions in horror movies make sense or are they just stupid? Source: YouTube/Ryan Hollinger)
For horror buffs, Ryan Hollinger’s YouTube page is required viewing. Ever been curious which straight-to-video Scooby-Doo movie is the best? Ever wondered which movie from last year would mess you up more than any other horror movie would? (It’s “Nightingale,” in case you were curious.) Ever wanted a full breakdown on why former horror director Peter Jackson was probably an inspired choice to direct J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” adaptations? Ever wonder what “kids movie” is probably darker and more visually horrifying than most actual horror movies?
Beyond that, Hollinger is just really good at breaking down themes, writing and technique, both for horror movies, but other films in general, as well as video games and even some literature and TV (he does a really amazing video on Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”).
Every Frame a Painting
Every Frame a Painting hasn’t released a video in three years, and it only existed for three years before that, but for film nerds, it is without a doubt one of the best YouTube channels in terms of learning and understanding the craft of film, particularly the visual aspect.
With bite-size videos that covered things like the geography and geometry of cinematography by using the works of Akira Kurosawa to the way documentaries convince you to believe their subjects by spiking the lens (making the subject look the viewer straight on, rather than over the shoulder), how to express the story of who’s “winning” a scene simply with camera angle and the simplicity of shot-reverse-shot, as mastered by Roger Deakins, the cinematographer of most of the Coen Brothers’ movies, as well as Blade Runner 2049, 1917 and perhaps the most beautifully photographed film of the past twenty years, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.”
Every Frame a Painting is an encyclopedia for film lovers and film enthusiasts, as well as aspiring filmmakers.
(Conner O’Malley crashes the Republican National Convention in 2016. His oddball character fits right in with the crowd. WARNING: Inappropriate language in video. Source: YouTube/Conner O’Malley)
Listen, these are some dark, dark, anxiety-riddled times, am I right? What better way to solve that than with some dark, dark, anxiety-riddled comedy ala’ “Late Night with Seth Meyer” writer Conner O’Malley.
It might genuinely take you a while to get his brand of over-the-top, absurdist comedy that feels, at times, more like an idiot trying to make a David Lynch movie, but once you do, you’ll probably regret it.
That being said, his best videos are the ones in which he poses as a die-hard Trump fan and somehow fits in perfectly. There’s just something about his brand of comedy that feels very befitting of a world taken over by meme-research. In other words, his characters are basically the type of guys who call things a hoax on the internet.