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YouTube Comments & Their Irrelevance

Something I’ve hinted at and plan on doing a podcast on at some point in the future here at WTF EX is concerning the usage, implementation, and overall general idea of “comments”. I’ll save the nitty-gritty for whenever I get around to recording that episode with whomever happens to be on the show (as per the promise of “no set schedule and no set guests”), but I will share one comment that just came in today. First you’ll need a little background, though.

We have a brief series of original video clips over on Daizenshuu EX called “Inconsistencies” (which are placed on our site and also our YouTube channel). They explore changes between the original manga and TV adaptation of the DragonBall series in what we consider to be a fun and visually-interesting way. For a little side-project website, I’d say they’re pretty darn well-produced. We don’t have slick graphics and animated intros like stuff on Game Trailers, but we’ve got motion blur and decent audio!

Ever since the first (of three) clips went live, the overwhelming response has been that of FUNimation English dub fans who take extraordinary issue with someone speaking English and not only referencing terms and names from the original Japanese version, but also showing said Japanese version. General assumed intelligence level pre-conceptions of a FUNimation English dub fan who can still manage to type properly aside, these comments showcase what I feel is a huge problem with the safe anonymity of the interwebz, and especially mass-consumption social networks like YouTube. There is zero accountability, zero sense of self, and zero sense of community (shockingly opposite of what these sites attempt to create: community). I wish I could say it’s just children being children, but it’s terribly far from the truth. It’s difficult to analyze the situation without full knowledge of just who these people are, but I have to imagine it would be naive to assume they are all uneducated, bored, neglected children.

John C. Dvorak has written some interesting things regarding the value online comments, and a conversation between Leo Laporte and Amber McCarther on an episode of the net@night podcast (forgive me for not having the exact episode) placed YouTube comments at the absolute bottom of the totem poll, with absolutely zero value to society. So how about this example? Let’s take a look at it, and give the commenter the unfortunate satisfaction of attention.

Wow. You said Genki-Dama and showed subtitles. You’re a fucking Japanophile. It’s called Spirit Bomb. Stop thinking you’re cool by using Japanese terms. You’re not cool, you’re not elite, you’re just an idiot. DBZ in Japanese sucks. Everyone is voiced by the same 60-year-old constipated woman and the music is way too cheerful and mono quality. Seriously, this video made me sick because of how elite you think you are by saying Goku-sama and stuff. Fucking loser.

FALLACY: The translation of “Genki-Dama” is not “Spirit Bomb”, making the FUNimation term inaccurate. This person simply prefers that name, and therefore claims the original is somehow wrong.

TRUTH: I’m an idiot. Then again, we’re all foolish at some point or another. The verdict’s out on whether or not I’m retarded, though.

FALLACY: Not everyone is voiced by “the same 60-year-old constipated woman”. Notable American voice actor Chris Sabat provides more roles to his company’s production of the DragonBall series than any single Japanese voice actor in their own original production of the show. What they’re really trying to say? “lolz you like the gay goku voice“.

TRUTH: The music is indeed mono. Then again, the show started in 1986.

FALLACY: No-one said “Goku-sama”. They simply ran out of insults at this point and wanted to wrap it up.

I won’t lie; these types of comments do wear down on you after a while. I don’t know the exact phrase or who to attribute it to, but you have to consider that if you don’t think you’re crazy, but everyone around you is telling you that you’re insane, you should really take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. In this case, is the overwhelming negative response from these YouTube commenters the “correct” opinion? Or is it, as I’ve always held to be the case, just a bunch of childish, near-sociopaths flapping their mouths online where they can’t be smacked upside the head? I’ve never had anything more than a single, friendly disagreement at any convention I’ve ever been to before, and since I know these types of people are out there, that just leads me to believe that (a) I haven’t had the chance to be in the same room as them, or (b) they don’t have the balls to say this stuff in real life. Sure, it’s the typical “elitist” standpoint to take, assuming that these “commoners” are somehow “beneath” you… but is there any validity to it?

Furthermore, how do we overhaul the comment system to make it worthwhile? If we do so, don’t we just make it geared towards what we want to hear, rather than what the possible majority actually have to say? I guess those questions will have to be further discussed in whatever and whenever podcast we do!

Part of me wants to invite these people onto a show just to genuinely hear why they think this way and what the basis is for their points, but then the elitist side of me jumps in and just assumes they’re children that wouldn’t be able to hold a professional discussion without nervously squawking their way through, hanging up, or otherwise being useless.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not looking for validation or support. I’ve been doing this stuff online for over ten years, and have a thick-enough skin that I can move on with my life. Just felt like sharing those thoughts, and on a place with a small-enough readership that I don’t expect that validation :P.

5 Comments

  1. I’d love to be on the podcast to discuss this with you! Though, I’m kind of in the same boat as you as far as running into problems such as your example. I basically just avoid reading any YouTube comments at all, and I never post anything unless I absolutely have to. Specifically, if it’s a question about something I’ve posted.

    Anyway, it was a great read and I completely agree with just about everything. Thanks!

  2. Onisom has a funny video about these type of people. He’s a satire type of filmmer. He makes fun of everthing. A video he made that applies to this is “I’m So Hater.”
    Do yourself/selves a favor a check it out and enjoy yourself.

  3. I agree with you, Mike. These youtube comments are a complete waste of everyone’s time. They serve no purpose other than as a rant, and are amusing to look at. It doesn’t bother me too much that you use Japanese terms even though I’m a dubbie, but I’m certainly not going to right an illegible rant about it, especially when, as I much as I love the dub, the Japanese version came first.

  4. It sucks that people but all that hate on you because you have a bit more knowledge about Dragonball.

  5. I find the whole comment thing on many video and news sites to be useless. Most of the time it isn’t people who care about the content or have legit criticism. It’s just morons who want to sound off or show their ass online. Mind you these are the same people who in real life could be decent people. Sad thing is they believe they are totally free online to show their true self. I think Youtube should get rid of comments all together. Forums are somewhat better at building a community than a comment box on a video.

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