Getting sucked into the viral video vortex can feel a bit weird at first, but it’s become an experience we can all relate to. It usually starts innocently enough. A friend forwards you a link to the latest viral video hit on YouTube. You’ve heard about it. Perhaps you’ve even caught a glimpse of it; a casual peek over a friends shoulder, or from joining the huddle around a co-workers computer when you couldn’t resist checking out what all the cackles and groans were about.
It’s what happens next when the weird truly begins. As you continue to click and watch you find yourself drifting outside the safe YouTube community circle of the millions and billions, and stumbling into the places where your natural instincts are to keep your head down and walk fast.
How did you suddenly stumble from a place where adorable kids are lip-syncing pop-songs or hilariously shaking off the effects of nitrous oxide post-dentist, to a place where a strange man is swallowing lighter fluid or people are getting high by injecting snake-venom?
Welcome to the edge of YouTube.
Here are five YouTube channels that deftly skirt the edge of the YouTube community guidelines and are worth checking out if you’re looking to take a trip to the fringes.
Vice’s YouTube channel is an off-shoot of the magazine with the same title. The publication was founded in Montreal in 1994, but truly came of age when it moved to New York City in the late 90’s and embraced Gonzo-style journalism that directly challenged the methods of the mainstream media. Vice’s YouTube channel description states: “Vice specializes in exploring uncomfortable truths and going to places we don’t belong.” This includes video material on topics ranging from underground LSD palaces, the life of Japanese sex workers and interviews with cannibals. Vice also has a rich library of material focused on music, food and art, as well as videos covering political issues like the protests in Egypt, civil rights in Turkey and the war in Syria. Vice manages to share such edgy material within the YouTube community guidelines by presenting it mostly in a documentary format.
In addition to its own YouTube channel, WorldStarHipHop has it’s own website, which it presents as “home to everything entertainment & hip hop.” The website aggregates videos primarily focused on hip-hop music, violent fights, and sex-infused material, which have contributed to it being labeled as “shock site.” In the YouTube community, WorldStar’s main channel is based on user-submitted videos that frequently capture spontaneous, violent public brawls. WorldStarHipHop material on YouTube is consistently flagged and taken down based on the YouTube community guidelines, so it is fair to say what is viewable today, may very well be gone tomorrow.
Marina Orlova is a Russian-born philologist (a person who studies language in a historical context). Once dubbed by Wired magazine the “World’s #1 Sexiest Geek,” Orlova’s YouTube channel features the scantily-clad logophile discussing words and their lineage in the English language. Orlova herself admitted that she came to YouTube in 2007 based on the insight that “everyone was uploading cleavage.” Since, the channel has passed 400,000 subscribers who have demonstrated to the YouTube community that a lady in a bikini goes a long way in enticing others to learn about language.
Chris Schewe, aka Shoenice, will make your stomach turn. His YouTube channel is compiled of gut-busting videos of him eating things such as: a stick of Old Spice deodorant, a container of motor oil, twelve raw eggs (with their shells), and three full packs of cigarettes (packs and all). Over 1 million people have watched Schewe slam a 2-liter bottle of Coke, but it’s the more obscure videos of him consuming dangerous substances that have managed to miraculously evade the YouTube community guideline police. Schewe has recently attempted to turn his YouTube stardom towards a pledge of helping to end world hunger. Can the man who will eat anything save the world from starvation? Who knows. But we do know this: it’s best to watch Shoenice on an empty stomach.
The YouTube community guidelines are pretty clear on cracking down on graphic or gratuitous violence, but when it comes to weapons and weaponry there is still plenty of material to take in. One such channel that is focused on the world of knives, guns and all types of tactical equipment is The Nutnfancy Project. Nutnfancy is believed to have a military and/or law enforcement background and provides highly detailed reviews on a variety of weapons. And occasionally, he shares his philosophical and political approach to ideas around gun rights and freedoms. Nutnfancy’s views are not without controversy, but have managed to garner him into a following among the growing fringe community that rallies around the topics his channel addresses.
It’s obvious that as the YouTube community continues to grow, so will those channels that push the limits of the site’s guidelines. Visit at your own risk! FYI, if you’re brazen enough to visit these sites but would rather save the videos to watch later try out a YouTube Downloader.