There's no good way to say it: YouTube Rewind 2018 was a flop. What once was the platform's much-anticipated homage to its fans, with the production involving YouTube's biggest creators and trends now has seen an iteration with a whopping 6.6 million downvotes — the biggest dip in its seven-year run — and the first ever Rewind to receive more dislikes than upvotes. Yikes! But what is it exactly about this year's production that made both fans and creators disapprove of it so much?
YouTube Rewind 2018's missing members
Let's start with the most obvious reasons. 2018 was a big year for some of the old-timers like PewDiePie, who has an ongoing subscriber count battle with Bollywood production company T-series, and Shane Dawson, who created the most interesting TV-style serial documentaries on the platform. Just the exclusion of these two creators in this year's Rewind caused a major uproar among fans and other YouTubers. Plus, it's worth noting that even other creators were not given enough credit in the video although their works were included.
For example, K-pop group BTS was referred to as 'K-pop' in the video without any mention of the group whatsoever, causing fans to shake their heads at this obvious ploy to drive the group's fanbase into the mix without actually crediting the artists. There's also mention of Trisha Paytas, the creator who made mukbang a thing on YouTube, when it was mentioned as one of the platform's biggest trends of the year. And given that we're talking about trends, even the Tide Pod sensation or the Paul brothers' myriad of controversial stints also did not make it into the video even though these headlines have caused quite a stir on the platform. And the list goes on. This made people question what YouTube Rewind is becoming and who it is now made for, seeing that the production leans more towards an advertiser-friendly stand than actually putting a highlight on the platform's happenings.
The state of YouTube
Next, the issue of YouTube no longer being creator-friendly was also hinted at in this year's Rewind, with Will Smith headlining the video and comedians Jon Oliver and Trevor Noah appearing in it as well. It has been an ongoing issue in terms of how celebrities are now taking part in the success of independent creators by also venturing into YouTube. Not to mention fans asking for their favourite YouTubers to appear, only to be shadowed by mainstream Hollywood personalities and gaming streamers who were originally from another platform, Twitch. Previous Viners who also crossed over to YouTube after the short-video streaming app shut down in 2017 also continues to share the stage with these other personalities, leaving old-time creators to feel lost in their own platform.
A cringe-worthy segment
But that's not the icing on top of this messy cake. While it can be said that some parts of the video were forgivable, it really got out of hand when it came to the social justice segment. Some creators shared how YouTube has helped open discussions about mental health, feminism, and even Asian representation on the platform. And while the intention may initially be good, the audience felt like it was just cringeworthy, self-righteous, and an unnecessary detour to what was an already confusing video. Not to mention that the creators who were featured in this segment are not associated with any of the points they talked about, adding to its lack of conviction and impact.
Ironically, this year's Rewind was titled "Everyone Controls Rewind." Needless to say, its fans and its creators felt the most out of touch in this production. It also sparks more issues as to what the platform is becoming and who it really is catering to, especially when compared to when it was built on the foundation of independence for both its fans and YouTubers. On a business standpoint, it makes sense for it to lean towards more family-friendly content to appease advertisers, but with a platform whose core was established through independent entities and patronised by people who lived and loved those content creators, it makes us wonder whether this year's Rewind will serve as a lesson to the platform to have it backtracking — pun intended — to the old times.
Speaking of content creators and advertisers, let's talk about the importance of authenticity when it comes to sponsored posts and reviews.