Nowadays politics and social issues…it’s not even sneaking anymore. With so many celebrities, writers, and even reviewers taking a side in pretty much every current sociopolitical topic out there and shoving it in your face left, right, and center it’s getting harder and harder not to discuss this stuff. Even I’ve tried to dance around the subject itself to the heart of the positive and negative effects on storytelling, and the right and wrong way to do it, whether I agree with a particular subject or not. I’m not here to discuss politics, I’m here to discuss storytelling.
Therein lies a huge problem with the new website Transparency.Tube. Billing itself as “The First Comprehensive Look at Politics on YouTube”, this site is attempting to catalog every YouTube channel that discusses social and political issues. At least that’s what it says they do. As always the devil is in the details and that’s why a number of people on the site, especially those who made the list, are not happy with how the site is being run. While I first heard of this site on a Clownfish TV video (I don’t regularly watch their shows but they come up in my recommendations a lot so sometimes I do look into it) and a couple of other channels I follow since then has weighed in, the most BW-friendly (as in content, I don’t think she knows of the site and yet something else that happened on her channel will spark an article later this week) is dannphan, an independent comic creator whose channel reviews comics and occasionally discusses some wacky war going on in the “wonderful” world of Twitter rage. She sums up the main issue nicely because she’s one of the “lucky” to get on this list and isn’t happy with how her channel is being labeled.
Catch more dannphan on her not right wing YouTube channel.
The biggest issue here is that being listed as “anti woke” (formerly “anti SJW”, a change they must have made sometime yesterday as I was checking the site then to see if anyone I knew was on the list) will automatically classify you as “right wing” whether you are or not, though I have seen some channels that were marked centrist also having the anti woke tag while looking over it after seeing dannphan’s video. She keeps her politics secret, but some channels I do follow that I know lean left were being slapped as right wing because of being anti woke or if enough of their subscribers were considered conservative to transparency.tube’s algorithm. I’m starting to get sick of the word algorithm because YouTube’s own algorithm has buried channels every time they change how it works.
The other problem is that trying to get the right tags on you in this politically charged environment is not possible. The site’s owner, Mark Ledwich (the only other member and possible co-owner is Sam Clark), who does the manual checking, has made his decision and stuck to it. In the Clownfish TV video I linked to in the article intro they went over the fight they’ve had with Ledwich about being properly classified. Just Some Guy, also declaring his left leanings, put it best: “You don’t get to decide my political views. I do.”
Catch Just Some Guy on his also not right wing YouTube channel.
What worries me is the notion that this exists as some way to benefit traditional media (aka old media, which in typical fashion for any medium that’s been around for enough generations to forget when they were targeted by the old media that preceded them) in finding a certain political ideology. What this will lead to is partisan ideologues going after certain channels. The odd thing is this isn’t just an issue for the channels they actually get right. NBC’s various news channels on YouTube for example are listed as partisan left but also mainstream news, that last tag shared with Fox News which is called right and partisan right, so it’s not like they are ignoring the leanings of mainstream news. (Most of their local affiliate news channels are marked as center.) However by now we know where the mainstream news is. Oddly CBS News is considered center but their spin-off channels get the left tag.
What this hurts are the independent channels that YouTube was created for originally. As YouTube became a source of entertainment the networks and studios who have been around a lot longer had a fit and started doing hit pieces on these “internet famous celebrities”, especially when they saw an opening like the time Logan and Jake Paul went to Japan and filmed a suicide victim’s body or some questionable skits by the usually uncontroversial PewDiePie. If they can now shout down critical voices here’s a new platform to find the targets.
The best example I can come up with is MechaRandom42 (who discussed this on an unarchived livestream and she hasn’t posted anything on it as of 4:54 PM ET, when I’m writing this part), who is also listed as right wing according to transparency.tube but very much isn’t. She has, like Just Some Guy, called out the far left in how they treat characters, especially in the Star Trek, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters franchise, and spoken out against token representation that turn out to be bad characters and worse adaptations, labeling her as a member of the so-called “Fandom Menace” for her commentaries against Disney’s Star Wars films and current studio runner Kathleen Kennedy. By giving her channel a false label of political ideology they are making her a target by those who are more interested in representation than story, especially in a franchise they wouldn’t otherwise have any interest in. Already she has recounted death threats for her views before the site popped her in the list and in our highly charged climate her views will immediately be written off if they believe what transparency.tube tells them her leanings are. That’s how we roll in 2020.
So yes, when it comes to these smaller independent channels, with an algorithm that bases its findings on the alleged political views of their subscribers (I subscribe to a number of story discussion channels that lean left, including one so left I’m surprise it wasn’t picked up by the algorithm but otherwise the content is fascinating) and on one particular topic–social justice warriors/wokeness opposition or membership–this site is, and it’s a term I don’t usually use around here because it comes from the highly politicized perspectives–fake news. They decide what the channels politics are whether the channel indicates them or not (one report said that a baking channel was on this list) and in the current cancel culture where sometimes they don’t even bother looking at what a video actually says if the right people tell them it’s a hate channel this cannot be good for proper discourse on any topic. Only use this channel to see if you’re on it, not to see who you’re not supposed to like because this list is too lazy to be accurate.