On YouTube, nothing is original but everything lasts forever. Therefore, if we leaf through its oldest testaments, we can see the genesis of today’s lumbering beast.
As (the suitably named) Forrest Church once said of his religion in conversation:
“Where’s your church?”
“We’re standing in it.”
“But this is a bookstore and it’s a Friday.”
Clearly, he was talking about YouTube, as that weighty tome has indelibly impacted our lives, be it soundtracking our showers, our commutes, or the workings of our lower intestine. Gazing at that cathedral of nonsense in the current year, one can point at the questionable acts it has enabled, whether it be the elevation of shysters, Presidential-pizza-parlour-pedophile-presuppositions and indeed, world headlines over a minor tiff between two makeup artists.
But, any examination of the platform, as indeed, any religion, one must look at their oldest testaments…and chortle heartily.
So, in no particular order, feast your awkward selves on the first ten commandments that YouTube put forth.
10) “First Back Flip on Youtube!”
This clip is important for numerous reasons. It birthed the concept of the flowery (and completely superfluous) credit roll at the end of the video, one where the uploader congratulates themselves for managing to upload their footage.
Strangely, the clip opens with the threat “Another dismount!!!”, without supplying evidence of prior achievements, making this putz the George Lucas of YouTube body flippery.
What we have here, as Roman Barnes opines, is the beginning. In his words: “2005: first backflip…2017: SUPER ULTRA BACKFLIP GONE WRONG ALMOST DIED”
The author of this clip, COBALTGRUV, also has a spot of notoriety, as he proudly claims to be YouTube’s first troll, by virtue of his habit of spamming unrelated videos with a solitary word: “interesting”.
Interestingly, he’s still active on the platform, which clearly points to this moment being the highlight of his documented life.
9) “Pajamas and Nick Drake”
Consider this grainy example as the first recorded usage of a cat for lols on YouTube. Clearly, this is the Wright Brothers’ flight, but with fur, to the strains of a dead hippy warbler. From this point, everything would be changed. The user, known only as ‘steve’ uploaded the video back in 2005, which would make the cat in question (known as ‘Pajamas’) certainly dead.
But what we do on YouTube echoes in eternity.
8) “Vernal Lullaby”
Clearly, originality does not stalk the halls of YouTube, as the fan-made music video dates back to May 2, 2005, with Adam Quirk’s initial artistic mangling of the Queens of the Stone Age track ‘This Lullaby’. Aside from the first instances of abusing digital zoom and attempting to wring lyricism out of the mundane (read: balloons on a sign), it has the same appeal as those clips from the early 1900s, those documenting a time now passed, captured by a medium that was radical at the time.
It also represents another cornerstone of YouTube, the needlessly long video, with a runtime of 1:23 making it the Birth of a Nation of YouTube’s grainy morn.
Also, check out that boxy computer. Lol.
7) “cybergoon squad”
Someone only known as “greg” gave birth to this abomination, which you could easily assume is the first instance of sexualised human-robo kink. I mean, you’d do one (or all three) of them. Don’t fib. Since then, YouTube robots have promised to kill us, safevouched by the diplomatic protections of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
It is probably also the first stroke of the weirder side of YouTube. Something to watch at 3am, something to watch in lieu of sleep, something that is difficult to explain when an unattached party unexpectedly walks into the room.
6) “carrie rides a truck”
As Willy Shakes once wrote, for never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo. Or, in YouTube parlance, of Jones and her Carrie.
“Jones4Carrie” uploaded this clip two weeks after YouTube launched, making it the first trite snapshot of a relationship. Little is known of the titular Carrie, other than her propensity to choke a chicken, but the fact that the tableau spools in silence, replete with a lack of lighting and/or focus transports us into the memory bank of the camera person, the person who was once hers. It’s a fairly clear representation of the unreliable narrative of recalled love, in that you remember the fragments, but seldom the context. You remember when Carrie rode the truck, you don’t remember exactly what forever broke you.
5) “Stadion Bayen München”
That clip YouTuber “Dominoes” uploaded gave birth to something that poisons the comment boxes of every single video on the site: subjective anecdotal commentary, and a spelling error in the title. We should consider ‘Stadion Bayen München’ patient zero. It possesses fertile grounds for the virus to spread. The video illustrates something we cannot access, the long-dead Olympic Stadium built in Munich, an obsolete piece of architecture that was once pioneering, but now simply resembles how far the world has moved on.
The stadium hosted Metallica in August 2019.
4) “Premature Baldness”
The story of Paul is a simple one. One that you’d overhear on a train carriage, one that was far too loud to ignore. Paul wanted to know what he would look like when he was 50. Paul decided to get a bald patch shaved into his hair on Waikiki Beach. Paul later attempted to become an Olympian. Dare 2 Dream.
With that being said, Paul’s nonsense matters, as it is the very first instance of artistic heavy-handedness in the editing process, with the titular P going balls out with transitions and wipes. Whether it was for deliberate comic effect, or as a byproduct of his natural lack of self-realisation, we do not know.
“tribute” represents the first instance of a flirty step-child raw dogging its parents, as the format (a short clip of nonsense replete with a quotable line) was the root that grew into YouTube offshoot Vine.
2) “My Snowboarding Skillz”
Uploaded a few small hours after YouTube’s launch, “My Snowboarding Skillz” is a watershed moment, but inasfar as the water on the shed freezing, falling off and skewering the uploader, while the uploader drags the attention from everyone in their orbit, castigating their awesome lack of luck. Replete with the incorrect use of a consonant to subvert the achievement for maximum mirth (“skillz”), the clip represents the first footsteps in the (now flowering) field of fail.
This clip is also shrouded in extreme mystery. Like the cave paintings of yore, the hand responsible only drew one image, before vanishing beyond our gaze forever. The uploader, “mw” was last seen liking a clip on another account back in 2012. Who were they? Did he/she or it ever nail that rail? Did they ever quench their gargantuan thirst for attention?
1) “Me at the zoo”
Consider this example the dawn of the timeline. To use Terminator parlance, 23 April 2005 is our Judgement Day. It is Genesis, it is the big bang, it is the Monday of the internet’s very long week. The very first video on YouTube depicts Jawed Karim, one of the three founders of YouTube, discussing the length of an elephant’s trunk at length at San Diego Zoo.
While it represents video-sharing crawling out of the primordial soup, it also gave birth to something far eviler, the protracted and extremely tired Darude Sandstorm joke, with the tagline of the video stating “…maybe it’s time to go back to the zoo? The name of the music playing in the background is Darude – Sandstorm.”
Disappointingly, I rewatched the clip to try and hear said Darude song, but I believe I was had.
Sadly, we, much like the elephants in the background, are forever cursed by the accessibility of memory.
Here’s to another decade.