YouTube's End-Of-Year Videos Are Historically Bad. This Year It Somehow Got Hilariously Worse.

This week's newsletter: YouTube somehow put out an even worse "Rewind" video than in years before, and a former wedding influencer shows us how to transition into a divorce influencer.

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I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss YouTube’s bad year-end Rewind videos.

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YouTube has released its year-end “rewind” video for 2019. It makes one every year featuring its most popular content creators and its most-watched videos. The videos are usually produced in a hokey way with a poorly written script that’s barely strung together.

Every year, the video gets brutally trolled. In 2017, it featured “Despacito,” the “Floor Is Lava challenge,” and Logan Paul right before his “suicide forest” debacle (yikes). That video was downvoted 2.2 million times. Last year, it featured Cardi B, BTS, and ASMR. That one got downvoted a whopping 17 million times (compared to just 2.7 million thumbs-ups).

This year, YouTube acknowledged how much its annual videos are hated, and tried to put one out that was unlike any of the ones from years prior.

“In 2018 we made something you didn’t like. So in 2019, let’s see what you DID like,” read an opening title card. The video then jumps into a top 10 slideshow of the most-liked content on the platform this year. And that’s it. That’s the whole year-end video.

My coworker Lauren Strapagiel called it essentially a WatchMojo slideshow, and I couldn’t agree more. And, in online poetic justice, this year’s more self-aware attempt is already being massively downvoted. (There are 7.2 million thumbs-downs versus 2.9 million thumbs-ups so far.)

It’s also making everyone — including me — strangely nostalgic for the good old days. I miss the bad stuff. People miss the bad stuff.

Some are even going back to the 2018 video to reminisce. In comparison, they said, this bad video isn’t so bad! “At least they tried,” commenters wrote.

YouTube essentially said, “Oh, you guys hated that stuff? Well, here are some clips we slapped together.” Somehow, that made people even more frustrated. Others are simply tickled by the fact that YouTube can’t seem to make a video that its community likes on its own platform.

I reached out to the company for comment.

As a YouTube consumer and observer myself, I just want the Big People at YouTube HQ to hear this: If you can’t or don’t want to produce a year-end reflection video that’s both spirited and coherent...give us the bad stuff.

In hindsight, the videos don’t seem that bad after all. In fact, maybe they’re becoming cult status. Scratch that — make them worse! Just jumble a bunch of dialogue together and cut them into sequences that don’t make any sense. Absurdism is art after all, and cool internet kids love that shit.

A bit tangentially, but this all also made me nostalgic for the time BuzzFeed wrote whole articles (I wrote some of them) dedicated to a single YouTube video going viral. Those were simpler times.

How to brand-pivot from wedding influencer to divorce influencer and be accepted as authentic...or something close to it:

The New York Times posted an article this week about Molly Guy, a writer and designer. Molly created an online brand around hip, bohemian weddings — and subsequently, her hip, bohemian married life. It used to be called Stone Fox Bride, and it’s now called Stone Fox Ride.

The name change happened about two years ago, when Molly and her husband separated. However, she told reporter Allie Jones, she continued to maintain the public image of a happily married life for about a year due to her “fear of losing authority as an expert on weddings and all things happily ever after.”

(The article also had all kinds of fascinating — and irksome — tidbits about how one is able to abandon a normal 9-to-5 life to become a small-business owner and eventually become an influencer full time. Like this one: “Ms. Guy secured $250,000 in investment from her brother-in-law, Peter Shapiro, the owner of Brooklyn Bowl.” Sounds nice.)

When she finally fessed up to her followers about her failed marriage in 2018, her fans were supportive. “In fact, the post got more ‘likes’ than any wedding photos she’d shared before,” Jones wrote.

The more Molly wrote about her split, the more her followers began to ask her for advice on how to weather splits of their own. They wanted her take on how to deal with and dress themselves for “a stylish and spiritual divorce.”

Molly’s Instagram is now filled with the ups and downs of co-parenting and posts declaring that despite everything, she still loves and respects her ex. This shift reminds me of Eva Amurri Martino, aka Happily Eva After (we featured in the newsletter a few weeks ago for ‘gramming through her split). Eva has been posting through her apparently super-amicable divorce from her husband while she’s 5 months pregnant.

This article, however, shows us how to successfully execute that brand pivot over several years. Molly has fully embraced the emotional exhaustion of divorce and the ~realness~ that so many followers now crave. Unlike Eva’s seemingly perfect transition from her seemingly perfect divorce to her seemingly perfect single, pregnant motherhood, Molly decided to post more “real” images with captions about her “messy personal life and her anxieties,” the article said.

Recent posts on her Instagram feed discuss the messiness of navigating single life again, dating as a quote-unquote older woman and divorcé, the joys of co-parenting, and the resentments she still holds against her ex. These posts stand in stark contrast to the fairy-tale proposal stories she used to crowdsource and share a few years ago.

As more married influencers reckon with the reality of life, I wonder if the genre of Divorce Influencer will grow. What kinds of products can Divorce Influencers shill? Will other big corporations and brands find sexy and wholesome ways to align themselves with divorce? Will we debate the merits of idealistic divorce content versus so-called ~real~ divorce content?

I have a lot of questions. If you have answers or thoughts, email me.

Until next time — Looking for: a smart, sexy man to get married to and divorced from to jump-start my online lifestyle brand. Oh also, a $250,000 loan. Thanks!