YouTube is where weird goes worldwide. Whether it was the mystery of Lonelygirl15 in 2006, the emergence of the Harlem Shake in 2012 or last year's Too Many Cooks, YouTube is the place where one person's idiosyncratic take on the world can be discovered, shared, and celebrated, turning a once-weird happening into something the world embraces.
Case in point: in 2006, videos of a weird phenomenon called “cartridge tilting” began circulating on YouTube. Cartridge tilting causes bugs and glitches in cartridge-based videos games, and Goldeneye was of particular interest. That’s because the glitch in that particular game sometimes caused characters to jerk and convulse in mid-air. At this point, there are about 500 videos on YouTube showcasing the cartridge tilt, totaling just under 5 million views. That’s weird, and we love it.
In 2007, as cartridge tilting was becoming a (niche) “thing,” it also began taking on a new form, as videos of people jumping and shimmying, recreating the glitch, began appearing on YouTube as a meme called “Geddan” or “Get Down.”
From 2008 through 2013, about 3000 videos using the word “geddan” or “ゲッダン” were uploaded to YouTube. Those videos have yielded about 27 million views. Thus, a weird glitch in a video game enjoyed by just a few gave birth to a meme enjoyed by millions.
But that’s not all. Now let’s consider the Super Selfie - Geddan’s stylistic cousin.
In late 2013, Gabriel Valenciano began creating Super Selfie videos, which had a lot in common with Geddan videos -- both sharing the technique of constructing dances from captured frames of video. To date, Gabriel Valenciano has uploaded 35 Super Selfies, which have garnered 11 million views. While Geddan videos averaged 9,000 views per video, Gabriel’s Super Selfies have upped the ante to 300,000 views per video, becoming just big enough for a very important person to take notice.
In 2014, for her 7-11 video, Beyonce called upon Super Selfies for inspiration. In fact, she didn’t just call upon Super Selfies, she called upon the man behind them. She invited Gabriel Valenciano to consult on her video, which was essentially a three-and-a-half minute Super Selfie.
Since its release, 7-11 has been viewed over 213 million times. Just like that, the Super Selfie went from being something enjoyed by millions to something embraced by hundreds of millions.
Sometimes it might seem like YouTube is made up of a billion people who are just waiting for that next little bit of weird to come along. But it’s also made up of a billion people who all have a little bit of weirdness just waiting to be shared.
Below, enjoy a few of the most wonderfully weird videos from the first 10 years of YouTube:
In 2007, Hank and John Green embarked on a 365-day video adventure during which their only means of communication with the outside world were the videos they uploaded twice a week to their YouTube channel, the Vlogbrothers.
Eight years and over 7,000 videos later, the Vlogbrothers have become the godfathers of YouTube. Together, this dynamic pair has founded VidCon; revolutionized online education with their channels Crash Course, SciShow, The Art Assignment, Sexplanations, and Brainscoop; created and signed countless artists to their record label Don’t Forget to Be Awesome; interviewed the President of the United States; and inspired a loyal base of “Nerdfighters” -- aka Vlogbrothers fans.
Just like YouTube, vlogging is an ever-evolving form that’s taken in different directions by different creators. Jack and Finn Harries (JacksGap) have transformed their vlogs into travelogs with footage of their adventures around the world. Grace Helbig has become so popular she now hosts “The Grace Helbig Show” on E!, in which she regularly engages her loyal fans and fellow YouTube creators. But it’s the ever-inventive Casey Neistat that might depict this evolution best. Neistat sees his daily vlogs as “short films” being created every 24 hours. In his video “What’s Your Motivation,” Neistat addresses the comment -- “You’re a filmmaker, stop vlogging” -- with this insight:
“Creating a new movie every 24 hours and releasing that movie to an audience of hundreds of thousands of people is an evolution in filmmaking. Our job as creators is to further define any medium, our job is to create the new cliches, not to adhere to those defined by generations past.”
From Jenna Marbles to Akilah Hughes, vlogging continues to make YouTube the unique destination it is today. Click below for a playlist featuring some of the most influential vloggers in the past 10 years.
While the feel-good factor of a particular story or video is hard to measure, it's easy to sense. Here are four memorable, uplifting moments from the last 10 Years of YouTube:
Randy Pausch's Last Lecture: With months left to live, this beloved Carnegie Mellon computer science professor gives his last lecture -- a 75-minute lesson on resilience, wonder, and powering through hard work in order to live your dreams. He honors the people who have helped him and the people he's helped, and in doing so, inspires with a message that is unforgettable.
Hearing for the First Time: Sarah Churman receives a hearing implant after 29 years of silence, and we get to witness the first time she hears herself speak, laugh and cry. Her joy is a reminder of how human technology can be, and how the everyday things we might take for granted are truly a gift.
Kid President's Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here: Robby Novack, known as Kid President, welcomes new babies into the world through a candid celebration of all the simple experiences that make life worth living. Things like laughing with loved ones or dancing to music. He's also honest about the hardships of getting up in the morning, believing in yourself, messing up, and making friends.
Elderly Man in Nursing Home Reacts to Music: A clip from the 2014 documentary Alive Inside, this video captures the moment a generally unresponsive man with Alzheimer’s Disease reawakens while listening to music in his nursing home. Slipping on earphones, his eyes and smile come alive when he hears his favorite songs. It’s a video testament to the mysterious, magical relationship between music and the human mind.
Nearly nine years ago, an artist named Ahree Lee posted a timelapse video on YouTube called “Me.” The minute-long piece features over a thousand portraits of Lee taken over the preceding three years: all close-ups of her face in nearly the exact same position and with the same expression, cycled through day by day in chronological order.
A New York-based photographer named Noah Kalina discovered Lee’s work and was inspired to transform his own timelapse project into a similar piece of video art. (Coincidentally, he, too, had been photographing himself everyday - but for six years rather than three.) Kalina’s “Noah takes a photo of himself every day for 6 years” became a sleeper hit and earned him one of the first spots in the YouTube Hall of Fame, as well as a feature in the New York Times, a segment on VH1, and an homage by Homer on an episode of “The Simpsons.” The video of Kalina’s 6 year transformation has racked up more than 26M views in its lifetime, and ~7.2 years of time watched.
Overall, more than 4,400 days (or 12 years) worth of timelapse footage have been uploaded to YouTube, the sum of which has been viewed more than 3.9 billion times. Check out our playlist below for some of our favorite timelapses from the last 10 years.