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Five Video Essays CMNS Students Should Watch

October 19, 2021

By Petra Chase

Completing tedious class readings written by men in previous centuries isn’t the only way to get ready to participate in face-to-face discussions this fall. I’m not saying 20-page manifestos aren’t insightful, but it helps to have alternative resources that are a bit easier to digest. Here are five video essays made by commentary YouTubers which offer new perspectives on current topics in communication, media, technology, and internet culture.

“The Instagram Infographic industrial complex” by Amanda Maryanna 

The Instagram infographic is a popular topic in communication. Amanda Mayanna’s analysis looks further than the generic talking points of performative wokeness, at the medium as the message, investigating how the corporate design elements of popular infographics allow corporations to co-opt political movements. She also questions, “is it even appropriate to make activism aesthetically palatable?” And, “what does that say about us [and] the platforms that we’re using?” Amanda’s video essays are always well-researched, nuanced, and in-dialogue with scholarly authors.

“The Reality TV to Influencer Pipeline” by Tiffany Ferg

Tiffany Ferg has a series on her channel called “Internet Analysis” full of interesting deep-dives into new media and culture. She argues the real prize of being on reality TV is becoming an influencer. If you’ve ever watched reality TV and wondered what it looked like behind the scenes or after a show is over, this video will answer your questions. It had me thinking about how reality TV compares to social media in their representations of reality, and how this affects the way we view the world.

“Tiktok is kinda bad for fashion” by Mina Le

Mina Le makes videos about fashion and culture, and her aesthetic style is always creatively in-tune with the topic of her videos. This video criticizes how trends on TikTok promote over-consumption and fast-fashion. It makes me wonder, why is it so easy to fall for corporation’s rapidly manufactured short-lived trends? Social media, especially influencer sponsorships, plays a big role in the way we dress, and we need to talk about how it’s impacting garment workers in the Global South, the planet, and our sense of style.

“The Deadliest Trend on Tik Tok Yet, An Analysis” by Salem Tovar

While we’re on the topic of TikTok, as it seems an inescapable element of daily life and increasingly talked about in communication classes, Salem Tovar raises concerns about the influence TikTok trends have on young girls’ self-esteem. I knew TikTok was pushing unhealthy beauty standards, but I had no idea it was normalizing plastic surgery to such a dangerous extent. Salem accurately presents this issue as a dangerous epidemic.

“In defense of depop girls” by Kristen Leo

Kristen Leo’s an advocate for sustainable and ethical fashion, with a relatable sense of sarcasm and cynicism woven into her opinions. Kristen discusses the gentrification of thrifting on Depop, a peep-to-peer shopping app where secondhand clothing can be sold globally. Watch this video to find out more about the digital economy of thrifting, and why Kristen is defending these “Depop girls.”