Supermassive Black Hole

“You can throw television sets, diamond rings, or even
your worst enemies into a black hole, and all the black hole
will remember, is the total mass, and the state of rotation.”

– Stephen Hawking, in a lecture

“I’m sure if Shakespeare were alive today,
he’d be doing classic guitar solos on YouTube.”
– Peter Capaldi, in a meta-diary

As a kid I used to have an irrational fear of black holes. I learned from the I Wonder Why series that one cannot escape a black hole — you either travel faster than the speed of light (highly impractical, according to a nerd called Albert) or you destroy yourself piece-by-piece as you get closer and closer to singularity. Fun stuff.

Black holes also distort our sense of time. Inside a black hole, time slows down and everything else speeds up. Time gets whacked, so to speak, which is also what happens when we spend hours and hours on the Internet engulfed in the cold celestial blob that is YouTube.

But I don’t fear YouTube and I don’t hate it either. I just don’t like myself when I get swallowed by those insipid artista videos like Boy Abunda’s Fast Talk or Darla’s bag raids. Bag raids, in particular, are unexplainably addictive. The attempt to humanize celebrities does nothing to mask the brazen displays of luxury — and still, I dive in.

The better part of YouTube has an even stronger pull. Two of my favorite channels, for example, are Lessons from the Screenplay and Every Frame a Painting. They use the video essay format to deconstruct movies with keen attention to cinematic form (i.e. screenplay, musical score, camera movement, etc). I think film analyses that focus on form are better expressed through video essays. By showing us clips from the movies being dissected, video essays are able to present the argument and the evidence at the same time.

Another favorite is The Art Assignment, which was introduced to me by Bessy. The channel discusses visual art — paintings, painters, art history, etc. — to an audience that isn’t part of the typical alta sociedad market. AA makes well-researched assertions against the popular remark “I could do that,” and also for the often-dismissed art movements like minimalism (nothing to do with Marie Kondo) and abstraction (everything to do with Kandinsky). Channels like this ironically encourage me to leave YouTube and do some actual reading so I can also come up with sharp insights on my own.

Sadly there is a dearth of Pinoy YouTubers that discuss similarly niche topics. I only know of Kirby Araullo who talks about history (e.g. why the US bought the Philippines) and language (e.g. why Kapampangan, Ilokano, etc are not dialects). I wish more Pinoy creators would address special interest topics like these; I’m sure there’s an audience waiting.

Or maybe there isn’t. Many viewers still prefer their cyber experience to have zero hint of any social or political scrutiny. The preference is fine, but the idea impossible. Pop culture does not operate in a vast void of nothingness — there are social and historical constellations that give life to our escapist options.

Even Cut, the channel behind the viral series Line Up and Fear Pong, recognizes the impossibility of being untarnished by certain political perspectives. “Anyone making any kind of content that makes any statement is already biased,” says visual anthropologist Christopher Chan in Chansplaining. “The most boring and most basic thing you can make,” Chan adds, “are things that pretend like they don’t have a bias.”

But where is politics in fashion hauls, you ask? And what about make-up tutorials or cooking shows like, say, Judy Ann’s Kitchen? (I love JAK, by the way.)

Fashion and beauty channels mainly fall under the Influencer umbrella, which has now evolved into a massive consumerist propaganda. Critic Katrina Stuart-Santiago even called Influencers “the worst invention of the internet” and for the most part I agree. Influencers collaborate with brands to create a need for a product or a lifestyle that is typically unnecessary. The partnership is largely profit-oriented, but the audience gives in because “authenticity” is used as leverage (i.e. “Influencer A only promotes the products he/she believes in, ajejeje.”).

Food and lifestyle channels, on the other hand, fuel our middle-class fantasies (e.g. a fully equipped kitchen) or create dangerous illusions of social equality (e.g. street food challenge, or any of those “Soshal People Live Like the Masa” paandar).

But mind you, my recognition of these nuances does not automatically stop me from enjoying the videos. I still click Darla’s bag raids, and I still love watching Juday cook using mamahalin ingredients.

Sometimes I just have to draw the line. There was once this beauty guru that I liked until she started openly endorsing the Marcoses and responding with “e ‘di wow!” to anyone who disagrees. Just to make this clear ha: “e di wow!” or “e di ikaw na!” are not valid arguments. And if you think they are, then you probably need to read more books and educate yourself because hindi tayo nilikha sa mundong ito upang humayo at magpakabobo.

Still, I love YouTube. It is a black hole, a cosmic garbage can into which we throw a considerable chunk of our precious time. There’s an exit button, sure, and there are also countless aphorisms that remind us to stay offline. But it isn’t so bad here, to be honest. YouTube is a beautiful spacetime shithole — we just have to bring a towel, and a little discernment wouldn’t hurt, too. #


The title, derived from an actual celestial object, is also a song by Muse

This post started as a listicle for 10 of my Favorite YouTube Channels and evolved into a lengthy-ass essay. I’ve been working on this post for three days already, and always I find something off — a misplaced comma, an awkward phrase, an overwrote sentence. I know they’re still there. I also know that as long as I keep this post in the Drafts pile, I will never, ever be satisfied. So here it is. 

(Nag-explain?!)

6 thoughts on “Supermassive Black Hole”

  1. Through YT, I can relive the 90s watching grainy digitized TFC-videotaped Eraserheads videos.

    You can also randomly chance upon an episode of Mo Twister’s show where a guest, a doctor, make lamas of Mocha Uson’s s*so.

    I also like Every Frame A Painting mainly because I really like shutting down Marvel fanboys (only in theory) who say Civil War or The Winter Soldier are the best MCU movies because they’re not—because shaky cam. Also, because GotG and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man are the best.

    “I think film analyses that focus on form are better expressed through video essays. By showing us clips from the movies being dissected, video essays are able to present the argument and the evidence at the same time.”

    – Ngayon ko lang na realize ‘to. May film critic na paborito kong basahin na minsan deni-detalye niya yung mga ganong bagay, dini-describe niya yung nangyayari sa screen at minsan mahirap i-imagine.

    Nasa YT din nga pala ang sandamakmak na mga propaganda ng mga Marcos tungkol sa kung paano naging Golden Age ang Martial Law, mga tungkol sa Yamashita treasure at kung anu-ano pa.

    Like

    1. Shet. I know exactly which Mo Twister video you’re talking about, hahahaha. Jusko si Mocha. What a character.

      Wala akong masyadong alam sa MCU movies e. Although mukha ngang universal ‘yung acclaim sa Civil War at Winter Soldier. Sobrang nagustuhan ng Screen Junkies, inamin nilang nag-nitpick sila nang bongga para sa Honest Trailer haha.

      I think ‘yan ang bar ko for an effective video essay — if the visuals add value to the argument. Otherwise literal na medium lang ‘yung YouTube para may makinig/manood sa gusto mong ikuda. Na okay lang din naman, actually. Haha.

      Sana naisip ko ‘yung diversity ng content sa YouTube n’ung sinusulat ko ‘to. Medyo malaking issue dati ‘yung refusal ng Twitter na i-ban ang Nazi propagandists e. Kung sana may clamor din para supilin sa social media ang lahat ng pagpapabango ng mga Marcos. Hmp.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Uy, thanks sa special mention! 😀 I love video essays too, especially Screenprism’s (film) and Polyphonic’s (music).

    When I saw “Supermassive black hole,” I immediately thought of Muse. Hehe. I would have written that if you didn’t put in the explanation because I’m epal. Lol.

    Regarding political content, you might wanna go see this channel called Jubilee. The latest episode was a conversation between Israelis and Palestinians. Medyo intense tong episode na to but much needed, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t watched anything from Screenprism and Polyphonic — thanks sa recom! I will give them a try. 🙂

      I watched the Israeli-Palestinian episode from Jubilee. Gahd it was so uncomfortable to watch. 😦 But you’re right, conversations like that must be had. I only wish that the episode also shone light on the external factors that caused the conflict to begin with. Hay, world. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was just watching that video of Sarah “I Could Do That” the other day. Sobrang dinamdam ko yung tungkol sa Untitled (Perfect Lovers). Tapos bet ko din yung “Love the Art, Hate the Artist” niya. Kainis. Ang galing niya maglay down ng thoughts niya.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Galing ‘no? I liked some of her points in “Love the Art, Hate the Artist.” Very relevant, lalo na sa panahon ngayon hehe. I hope more people recognize the problematic values some of our artists espouse, hindi ‘yung tanggap lang nang tanggap porke’t magaling talaga sila, ganern.

      Like

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