Top 10 Best Video Essays On YouTube

Long form content on YouTube is gaining momentum, and when I say long, I mean long. As I speak, the "video essay" format is slowly becoming one of the most popular methods for making content, where someone will sit down and make an in-depth analysis of a certain person, group, or topic. I haven’t seen anyone here make any lists about video essay YouTubers, so I figured why not go over some of my favorite essays on YouTube?

In order to count as a "video essay", I’m going to put up a minimum time of 20 minutes in length, though most videos I list will go well beyond that. Also, obviously being a long video isn’t enough, the video has to explore a topic in an in-depth and analytical way that serves to inform viewers in some manner.
The Top Ten
1 The Bell Curve (Shaun)

The bell curve is a psychological theory that claims intelligence is primarily determined by environmental and inherited factors. It claims to have strong predictions of where one will end up in life based on these factors and that the divide between high and low intelligence is a primary source of social divisions in society. Shaun's video analyzes the concepts and issues with the bell curve, primarily how the theory applied race into its factors that determine intelligence, and more importantly, how the bell curve has been used to justify eugenics. It is a rather touchy subject, but an important one in examining how racial politics have worked over the years and how the bell curve has influenced those politics.

2 What pretending to be crazy looks like (JCS - Criminal Psychology)

In 2018, Nikolas Cruz shot and killed several students and teachers at his former high school. Following the massacre, he was eventually apprehended and taken into police custody. This video by JCS offers an analysis of footage of Cruz being interrogated by a detective on why he did what he did. JCS dismantles Cruz's facade of mental instability (which is admittedly not a hard thing to do if you watch the footage), and provides insight into why someone like Cruz would feign criminal insanity. JCS's channel is very insightful for info on criminal behavior, and this video is his best work yet.

3 The best (and worst) show you haven't seen (Pyrocynical)

Nearly 8 hours in length, this video is an analysis of the British TV drama Utopia, which is about a group of people being hunted down for their knowledge of a manuscript for something called "The Utopia Experiments". The video summarizes the main plot points of the series and how they all connect. Pyro also examines the US remake of Utopia, and specifically how it fails to capture the depth and essences that made the original series a masterpiece. Despite the video's length, Pyro is capable of keeping the audience watching due to his distinct style of editing and narrating, which makes this video essay all the more amazing.

4 The Banach-Tarski Paradox (Vsauce)

The shortest video on the list comes from Vsauce, a channel dedicated to examining scientific and mathematical theories. His most viewed video for a while was his video on the Banach-Tarski Paradox, which hypothesizes that it is possible to break apart a 3-dimensional object into 6 pieces, rearrange the pieces, and end up with two new objects identical to the original. It sounds ridiculous, but when explained by Michael, it suddenly makes perfect sense. Michael's signature method of explaining these concepts is evidently the main thing that grabs your attention, but more importantly, how he's able to tie everything together is truly incredible.

5 How Canada Failed its Indigenous Population Every Chance it Could (iiluminaughtii)

iiluminaughtii mainly focuses on corporate scams and bad businesspeople, so this topic was a bit more out of the loop for her. However, Blaire still does an excellent job going in-depth about Canada's history and how to this day, they've left their indigenous populations to suffer at every possible turn. From correction schools to ignoring missing persons cases, Blaire wastes no time exposing the Canadian government's atrocious attitudes towards their most vulnerable ethnic groups. It is arguably the hardest subject to listen to out of the videos I've listed, but it is important to learn about nonetheless.

6 How to Pretend Systemic Racism Doesn’t Exist (Some More News)

During the peak of the widespread BLM protests, satirical news channel Some More News posted several videos explaining what these protests about as well as the lies being spread about them. This includes a video exposing police forces for being the main source of violence, as well as the one mentioned above where host Cody Johnston breaks down the faulty arguments made against the existence of systemic racism in the US. Cody shows how political think tanks like Ben Shapiro and Sam Harris really have no leg to stand on when it comes to their arguments, and he provides his signature delivery that keeps you watching.

7 INFLUENCER-19 (dangelowallace)

When the COVID pandemic was still a major concern for the world, many social media influencers demonstrated their complete lack of regard for others' safety with their huge parties and huger egos. D'Angelo Wallace, having almost lost relatives to COVID, provides an ample list of influencers and celebrities demonstrating their ignorance, from the usual suspects like Jake Paul and James Charles, to genuinely surprising names like Doctor Mike. It is quite an unfortunate site, especially knowing how during this period, the COVID pandemic was arguably at its worst stage to this day.

8 The Complex Problems with Mental Illness in Fiction (Hello Future Me)

Hello Future Me typically dabbles in analyzing elements of fantasy stories like Avatar: The Last Airbender, so this video was somewhat of an outlier from his status quo. However, it is a very important video to watch, because it demonstrates the mess that is properly addressing mental health issues in fiction, primarily using 13 Reasons Why as an example of how NOT to do this. Future Me gives a great explanation of how hard it is to accurately portray mental illness through writing and how many works of fiction get it wrong. If you have or had mental health problems, I feel like this video can help like it did with me in realizing the realities of mental illness.

9 Climate Denial: A Measured Response (hbomberguy)

Would you count Mic The Snare's music that defined the 2010s as a video essay? It's 41 minutes but I'm not sure whether it counts as being as analytical as some of these.

10 Gemini and the End of the World (Nexpo)

Gemini Home Entertainment is an analog horror series that focuses on VHS tapes being distributed by the titular company that all suggest extraterrestrial beings are invading the world. Nexpo, who has plenty of experience analyzing disturbing media, tackles this series head-on in this over 2 hour video essay on how the Gemini tapes, beyond their showcasing of the creepy creatures roaming the Earth, also hint toward something more sinister: the end of the world. It somehow gets more disturbing with every tape that Nexpo explores, and his dark narration makes the video a masterpiece in analyzing horror content on YouTube.

I like Nexpo's channel but I don't think I've watched this one all the way through.

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