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Inside YouTube Poop, the nonsensical genre that invented meme culture on the internet

By Malavika Pradeep

Feb 27, 2022

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Ah, internet culture. In 2022, it has become synonymous with TikTok screengrabs, Tumblr aesthetics, gradient create modes, Twitter reposts, Google Ngrams, AlphaChads, sigma males, girlunion, girlstrike, uwu girls… I could go on and on about the trends, formats and audios. But while its evolution is necessary to keep up with, the humble roots of online culture should not be ignored either. I’m talking about the roots spanning back to 2004.

18 years ago, in the pre-smartphone and pre-YouTube days of the internet, a 15-year-old who went by SuperYoshi (real name Matt Mulligan) uploaded a video to the now-discontinued website called SheezyArt. Titled ‘The Adventures of Super Mario 3 Remixed’, the video was a pixelated edit of random clips from an episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!. Using Windows Movie Maker, the creator captured the essence of what meme culture has evolved into today: absurd, nonsensical, surreal and provocative media aimed to evoke humour, shock and confusion.

At the time SuperYoshi posted the edit, users on SheezyArt termed the genre ‘Poop’ and dubbed Yoshi “The Father of Poops.” The following year, when YouTube made its grand debut as an online video sharing and social media service, Poops infiltrated the platform and gripped the internet. During this shift, however, the genre was renamed to suit its native status on the platform.

Welcome to the wildly random world of YouTube Poop, an artform currently on the brink of extinction—yet still functioning as a ground zero for modern meme culture.

What is YouTube Poop?

YouTube Poop, often abbreviated as YTP, is a genre of video mashups created by remixing or editing existing media—including (but not exclusive to) clips from popular cartoons, TV shows and commercials. According to Wikipedia, the source material often carries cultural significance which is fragmented and appropriated into a new media for “humorous, satirical, obscene, profane, as well as annoying, confusing, or dramatic purposes.” Meanwhile, meme database Know Your Meme defines the goal of YouTube Poop to create “purposely annoying videos that delight those who make them and irritate those tricked into watching.”

Throughout the 2000s, YTPs featured cutscenes from games released on the Philips CD-i platform like Hotel Mario, Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. References from the animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and the 1995 DOS game I.M. Meen were also commonplace for YTPs. Don’t even get me started on the genre’s obsession with SpongeBob SquarePants—with some videos raking over 18 million views on the platform.

Independent of the source material, however, specific editing techniques are what define YouTube Poop. Conveniently termed ‘Poopisms’, the methods include: reversals (for example, a person walking into a room can be edited to walk out), frame freezing (especially when an animated character makes a funny face mid-yawn), object duplication (in certain frames for comedic purposes), visual gags (quick flashes of other characters as a crossover edit) and bleeping, even for words that aren’t explicit. Stutter loops are also added for emphasis while sentence mixing—a technique where words are cut and mixed to create entirely new sentences that often include profanities—are used to make old cartoon characters address the latest news gripping the world. Earrape is another facet of YouTube Poop. Although undesirable, this is where creators intentionally blast the volume of certain frames to annoy viewers.

Now, all of this may seem overwhelming and hard to digest. But that’s exactly what YouTube Poop seeks to evoke: confusion and disorientation to the increasingly indifferent world of YouTube. If such edits were cross-posted to other platforms, say TikTok or Instagram, they’d fail to find their footing. Sure, short fragments of these edits have previously gone viral on the two platforms but it can’t be denied that YouTube has been conditioned for such edits in the first place.

Chronicles of a fallen art form

So what is it about glitchy repetitions and humorous juxtapositions that make YouTube Poop so appealing? What is the creative process like? And most importantly, how is the genre still influencing internet humour in 2022?

“I would define YouTube Poop as an edit of pre-existing media that has been heavily edited in a way to be confusing, edgy or funny—mostly the last one though,” said Payes, an enthusiast who has built a community of YouTube Poopers on Discord. Although Payes stumbled across the genre when he was much younger, he was hooked onto it after watching a series titled ‘Barney with Bad Words’ posted by the now-terminated YouTube channel Barney Pooper. Then came ‘Caillou’s Gay Halloween Sex Orgy’ from the notable YTP creator cs188.

According to Payes, the appeal of the genre lies in its editing tricks as well as in its ultimate goal to evoke humour. “It’s super funny to hear kid-friendly cartoon characters all of a sudden dropping the F-bomb, making sexual jokes or start talking backwards,” he told SCREENSHOT. As for NiceGuy, a member of the community Payes has built, YTPs are all about the randomness of the content offered. Discovering the genre in 2007, cs188 remains the top creator for the enthusiast.

Over at the backend of the phenomenon, I spoke to Shadowwolf1337, a creator who has been a huge fan of YTPs since 2009—now with his own YouTube channel amassing over 16,000 views on edits. “Technically, my very first YTP was made in March 2013 but it was some very shitty Asdfmovie6 and Asdfmovie4 Poops made with Windows Movie Maker,” he shared. Fast forward to late 2016, the creator edited his first “real” YTP where he used a bunch of songs from the 80s and had fun during the process. “I never really finished the edits and was afraid to upload it—given my great fear of YouTube’s copyright strike system,” he added.

YouTube’s copyright and fair use, how could I forget? Since YouTube Poop relies heavily on existing audiovisual material protected under copyright laws—and sometimes modified in ways which redefine the intended purpose of the material (be it for a good cause or bad)—the videos are often shot down from the platform following complaints filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In fact, back in 2007, political scientist and author Trajce Cvetkovski noted how the mass media conglomerate Viacom once filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against YouTube explicitly concerning YTPs. More specifically, a video titled ‘The Sky Had a Weegee’ by Hurricoaster, which featured scenes from SpongeBob SquarePants and ‘Weegee’, a satiric caricature based on Nintendo’s Luigi. However, the YTP is still up on the platform with a whopping 18 million views and multiple YouTubers reacting to it, even in 2022.

For Shadowwolf1337, the interest to post YTPs on its native platform stemmed from bingeing on several other collabs. “I wished I could host my own collab but the problem was that I didn’t have any videos on my channel. So I made some ‘finishing touches’ *laughs* to my existing video and finally uploaded it.” Surprisingly, his edit evaded YouTube’s terms for copyright. The next day, Shadowwolf1337 joined Payes’ Discord server and started working on the announced YTP.

In order to get more insights on the editing process, I asked Shadowwolf1337 about the tools he prefers for his videos. “Ever since ‘Succ at Subway’, I’ve used VEGAS Pro 14 for editing, GIMP for photos that I put into the videos and 4K Download for sourcing,” he shared. “My materials are also quite organised [see below]: ‘YTP stuff’ is for anything I would regularly use between videos, ‘Temp YTP’ for any one-time downloads that I’m unlikely to use again and ‘Video save’ has a subfolder called ‘YTP sources’.”

Inside YouTube Poop, the nonsensical genre that invented meme culture on the internet

Talking about the pre-existing material, Shadowwolf1337 makes YTPs with random and underused sources rather than the mainstream SpongeBob SquarePants and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog references. “Because with more commonly used sources, every joke I could possibly make has already been done,” he explained. Following this approach, Shadowwolf1337 is the very first creator who has edited a real YTP of Family Feud’s Richard Dawson.

However, last year, he hit a mental roadblock. “Over the course of 2020, it became harder for me to decide on the sources for every video I made. Until it got to the point where, in January 2021, I just couldn’t make any more YTPs,” Shadowwolf1337 admitted. “It wasn’t the lack of motivation but the lack of inspiration. I felt like making them but got no ideas at all.”

Although YouTube hasn’t removed any of his edits to date, two of Shadowwolf1337’s YTPs have been age-restricted. “These two videos just so happen to be the only ones with the F-word in the title,” the creator added. Let’s not forget how the explicit nature of YTPs often determines their appeal here. Furthermore, back in June 2021, Shadowwolf1337 lost his motivation to create YTP content altogether. “[This is] because of the epidemic of community guideline strikes and terminations that happened back then,” he said, outlining how tons of YouTube Poop creators have been discouraged and quit because of YouTube itself.

“Then we have those people who assume YTP is ‘just a dead trend from 2009’. Although I don’t think they have that much to do with it, I believe omitting ‘[YTP]’ from the title of a video results in more views.” The irony, right?

The legendary way forward

If all of this talk has prompted you to check out the genre, even though I’m pretty sure you must’ve stumbled upon a YTP before, here’s what all three enthusiasts have to say. “Just have a good laugh, that’s all I ask,” NiceGuy admitted. Meanwhile, Payes reminds one to be aware of the fact that there are different types of YTP creators with their own personal take on the genre. “Some are edgier than others but the best YTPers [according] to me are cs188, Marck3611, Hellion Hero, and The Septic Foundry,” he told me.

And if you’re interested in creating YTPs yourself, we’ve got Shadowwolf1337 on the line for some pointers. For starters, he preaches that people should spend more time with their sentence mixing. “I hate it when they slap roughly-cut clips of sound together and call it a day. With sentence mixing, you don’t just find a place where the vowel or consonant sound is said, you have to find a good place where it’s said—the strongest, clearest and the most well-defined sound that you can find.”

On the other hand, if you’re having a hard time discovering it, here’s a little hack from Shadowwolf1337’s experience: use a consonant sound that isn’t actually from the video. “I only put captions over parts of my sentence mixing that I find hardest to hear, but I don’t overuse them because having all the jokes read out to a person kind of ruins the humour,” he explained, highlighting how he often scraps loads of edits if they don’t turn out to be funny. “My quality control with uploading is that I find my edits funny, if not, [they have to include] original jokes or [be] cool to watch.” Payes additionally pointed out the overused trope of earrapes deployed to poke humour. “I don’t really find that funny… [it] can be painful to someone who is wearing headphones,” he concluded.

Even though YouTube itself is sabotaging its native video genre, the YTP community is committed to both expanding and reviving interests in the artform. In Payes’ Discord server, there are even dedicated channels for discussions, arts and self-promotions.

Think of it this way: YouTube Poop is being pulled off by creators with a computer and software skills. It is what punk music was to pop literate kids back in the 1970s—experimental and quite open-ended. Despite this low barrier of entry, however, the medium continues to influence modern meme culture with reaction GIFs and one-liners. And considering how there are YTPs being made on Disney’s Encanto as we speak, the genre is far from its supposedly ‘expired shelf life’.