BreadTube

Summary

BreadTube, or LeftTube, is a loose and informal group of online content creators who create video essays[1] from socialist, communist, anarchist, and other left-wing perspectives.[2][3][4][5] BreadTube creators generally post videos on YouTube that are discussed on other online platforms, such as Reddit.[6] BreadTube creators also livestream on Twitch.[7]

BreadTube creators are known to participate in a form of "algorithmic hijacking".[8] They will choose to focus on the same topics discussed by content creators with right-wing politics. This enables their videos to be recommended to the same audiences consuming right-wing or far-right videos,[8] and thereby expose a wider audience to their perspectives.[6] Many BreadTube content creators are funded through crowdfunding, and the channels often serve as introductions to left-wing politics for young viewers.[9]

Origin

The term BreadTube comes from Peter Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread,[10][11][12] a book explaining how to achieve anarcho-communism and how an anarcho-communist society would function.

The BreadTube phenomenon itself does not have a clear origin, although many BreadTube channels started in an effort to combat anti-social justice warrior and alt-right content that gained traction in the mid-2010s.[13][14] By 2018, these individual channels had formed an interconnected community.[14] Two prominent early BreadTubers were Lindsay Ellis, who left Channel Awesome in 2015 to start her own channel in response to the Gamergate controversy, and Natalie Wynn, who started her channel ContraPoints in 2016 in response to the online dominance of the alt-right at the time.[11] According to Wynn, the origins of BreadTube (as well as the alt-right) can be traced back to New Atheism.[15]

Format

BreadTube videos frequently have a high production value, incorporating theatrical elements and running for longer than typical YouTube videos.[1][2] Many are direct responses to right-wing talking points.[6] Whereas right-wing creators' videos are often antagonistic towards their political opponents, BreadTubers seek to analyze and understand their opponents' arguments, often employing subversion, humor, and 'seduction'.[6][16] Many aim to appeal to broad audiences, reaching people who do not already hold left-wing viewpoints rather than "preaching to the choir".[6] Videos often do not end with a solid conclusion, instead encouraging viewers to come to their own conclusions from the referenced material.[6] As BreadTube channels often cite left-wing and socialist texts to inform their arguments, this can act as an introduction to left-wing thought for their viewers.[9]

Notable channels

BreadTube content is in English and most BreadTubers come from the United States or the United Kingdom.[17] The term is informal and often disputed, as there are no agreed-upon criteria for inclusion. According to The New Republic, in 2019, the five people most commonly mentioned as examples are ContraPoints, Lindsay Ellis, Hbomberguy, Philosophy Tube, and Shaun, while Kat Blaque and Anita Sarkeesian are cited as significant influences.[5][11] Ian Danskin (aka Innuendo Studios),[2] Hasan Piker,[5][7] and Steven Bonnell[8][7] have also been described as part of BreadTube. Several of these people have rejected the label.[18][19][20]

Funding

Many BreadTubers are funded primarily by monthly donations on Patreon and refuse income from advertising and sponsorships. As they are not dependent on such income, BreadTubers have more freedom to produce critical content.[9]

Reception

According to The Conversation, as of 2021, BreadTube content creators "receive tens of millions of views a month and have been increasingly referenced in media and academia as a case study in deradicalisation."[13] According to The Independent, BreadTube "commentators have been trying, quite successfully, to intervene in the right-wing recruitment narrative – lifting viewers out of the rabbit-hole, or, at least, shifting them over to a new one."[7]

References

  1. ^ a b Williams, Wil (June 1, 2021). "The video essays that spawned an entire YouTube genre". Polygon. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Somos, Christy (October 25, 2019). "Dismantling the 'Alt-Right Playbook': YouTuber explains how online radicalization works". CTVNews. Archived from the original on February 15, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  3. ^ Alexander, Julia (January 31, 2020). "Carlos Maza is back on YouTube and ready to fight". The Verge. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  4. ^ "Youtube: Auf der anderen Seite die linken Influencer". Die Zeit (in German). January 13, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Citarella, Joshua (September 12, 2020). "Marxist memes for TikTok teens: can the internet radicalize teenagers for the left?". The Guardian. Retrieved August 8, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Kuznetsov, Dmitry; Ismangil, Milan (January 13, 2020). "YouTube as Praxis? On BreadTube and the Digital Propagation of Socialist Thought". TripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. 18 (1): 204–218. doi:10.31269/triplec.v18i1.1128. ISSN 1726-670X. Archived from the original on July 3, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Ellingham, Miles (January 17, 2021). "The rise of BreadTube: The battle for the soul of the internet". The Independent. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Roose, Kevin (June 8, 2019). "The Making of a YouTube Radical (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on May 22, 2021. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  9. ^ a b c Fuchs, Christian (2021). Social Media: A Critical Introduction (3rd ed.). Sage Publications. pp. 199–200. ISBN 978-1-5297-5274-8.
  10. ^ Roose, Kevin (February 12, 2020). "A Thorn in YouTube's Side Digs In Even Deeper". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Amin, Shaan (July 2, 2019). "Can the Left Win YouTube?". The New Republic. ISSN 0028-6583. Archived from the original on July 4, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  12. ^ "Three: Mirror Image". The New York Times. April 30, 2020. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 3, 2020. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Lee, Alexander Mitchell (March 8, 2021). "Meet BreadTube, the YouTube activists trying to beat the far-right at their own game". The Conversation. Archived from the original on June 30, 2021. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  14. ^ a b Mniestri, Aikaterini; Gekker, Alex (October 5, 2020). "TEMPORAL FRAMES FOR PLATFORM PUBLICS: THE PLATFORMIZATION OF BREADTUBE". AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research. doi:10.5210/spir.v2020i0.11281. ISSN 2162-3317.
  15. ^ Maughan, Philip (April 14, 2021). "The World According to ContraPoints". Highsnobiety. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  16. ^ Cross, Katherine (August 24, 2018). "The Oscar Wilde of YouTube fights the alt-right with decadence and seduction". The Verge. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  17. ^ Koenigsdorff, Simon (January 13, 2020). "Youtube: Auf der anderen Seite die linken Influencer". Teilchen (in German). Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  18. ^ Lindsay Ellis [@thelindsayellis] (November 10, 2020). "Someone tell this person that breadtube isn't a thing" (Tweet). Archived from the original on April 24, 2021 – via Twitter.
  19. ^ Shaun [@shaun_vids] (March 25, 2020). "do not send me messages about 'breadtube' drama. or 'breadtube' generally. its a fake group with arbitrary, subjective membership" (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 11, 2021 – via Twitter.
  20. ^ Natalie Wynn [@ContraPoints] (February 23, 2021). "I encourage my audience to drop the label "BreadTube"" (Tweet). Archived from the original on April 24, 2021 – via Twitter.