Reaction channels must show creativity to be worthwhile

November 27, 2017 — by Alex Wang and Callia Yuan

Question: Is it possible to have a worthwhile YouTube channel by simply by making videos of yourself watching — and reacting to — the videos of other YouTubers?

The answer: not if you take the approach that Jinx Da Rebel does.

In his recent “IF YOU LAUGH, YOU LOSE (104% LOSE) Try not to Laugh Reaction!!” his approach is far from being unique or original.

He starts by saying:

“Yo what it is up and welcome back to the channel. Y’all already know who it is: it’s ya boy Jinx and it is about that time that I redeem myself, because as y’all know, the last ‘Try not to Laugh,’ I somehow slipped up and laughed a little bit, ya know.”

The sheer lack of reasoning behind the creation of these “Try not to Laugh” videoes is stupefying after all, their only apparent talent  is to watch compilations created by other users using content from individual creators.

Due to the nature of these challenges, these reactions don’t leave much room for commentary, as remarks are generally restrained and the focus is shifted on not laughing or smiling.

Reaction videos on YouTube are generally formatted in the same way, with a clip of a video playing in the corner and a YouTuber watching and reacting to it. Some creators will periodically pause the video or cut parts of it out, while others sit and watch the entire video.

So, we wonder, how original does a video or channel have to be in order to be truly their own?

Channels like Jinx Da Rebel create reaction videos that are so bad that they’re entertaining. One of his videos, titled “You Farted! EPIC FAILS! Best Viral Montage Reaction!!,” starts off with an animated introduction clip and dubstep playing in the background, giving off a “Minecraft Let’s Play” vibe.

Throughout the video, his reactions are obviously exaggerated, and the video so clearly lacks actual substance that it’s unintentionally hilarious to watch this 25-year-old man, who is married and has a daughter, trying to go viral.

Rather than having specific commentary and or actual criticism, the original video never pauses and Jinx either: a) says nothing, b) points out blatantly obvious things, c) shouts “bro” or d) laughs aggressively.

Channels like Jinx highlight such react videos’ unoriginality. They are downright boring and do not express any creativity.

Another reaction channel, H3H3 Productions, run by the couple Ethan and Hila Klein has been on a slow rise and just hit 5 million subscribers. With their main content being reactions, what sets them apart is their original criticism and the large variety of videos they watch. They bring in new content and do not just replay the original video with minimal commentary.

Because they do upload more than just reaction videos and the recent development of their podcast channel, there’s much more personality coming from them and at least an attempt to entertain their audience.

Nonetheless, H3H3 Productions got into legal trouble with their videos. Early last year, the Kleins were sued by YouTuber Matt Hosseinzadeh for copyright infringement, misrepresentation and defamation in one of their videos, but the Kleins eventually won. Here’swhat district judge Katherine Forrest said in a footnote that:

The Klein video is part of a genre known as “reaction videos.” Some intersperse segments of another’s work with criticism and commentary, while others are akin to a group viewing session without commentary. Accordingly, the Court is not ruling here that all ‘reaction videos’ constitute fair use.

While legally original or not, reaction videos need to be unique from others to be worth watching. YouTubers must implement their own creativity instead of blindly playing another video and commenting on it. Like it or not, reaction videos constitute a specific genre, so it is ultimately up to YouTubers to differentiate their content from boring ripoffs and reward original and tasteful criticism with more views.

 

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