Some are as well known as the original videos they parody. Often shockingly vulgar or disconcertingly absurd, YouTube Poop (YTP) is an important pillar of internet culture. Since the beginning of the platform, some French video makers have specialized in their production. Initially intended for a niche audience, YTP codes are now visible in a lot of multimedia content, including television. To the detriment of the spontaneity and impertinence of the beginnings?
“You’re in your jealousy? I’m in your mother the whore. ” Teddy bear, cartoon hero Good night, kids wouldn’t say that. Much less rapping it. And yet, that’s what the 3.6 million viewers of the video Bonne nuit les Tipeu by video maker EnfluredeRenard discovered. A video signed [YTP], for YouTube Poop, released May 20, 2018, heir to more than ten years of absurd humor on YouTube. At least that’s what Olivier Lalane, himself a great poop lover, explains. He became interested in this type of video in 2014 through a university thesis.
“Originally, YouTube Poop had only one goal: to clog YouTube servers. Their creators were just a bunch of brats. We’d give them the opportunity to put anything online for free? So they’d put anything online. The aim was to pollute the platform with absurd content that could waste the time of those who viewed it. »
A will that has endured, but which has gradually become an art form in its own right, with its leading poopers and their fans.
A euphoria of beginnings that David, 26, better known under the pseudonym – unequivocally – of Groscacaboudin or GCB, remembers. For many videographers, he is known as the one who democratized the YTP in France more than ten years ago. “I was 16 and had too much time on my hands. I discovered these English-language videos that simply consisted of taking a source and reworking it by doing anything with its editing software. It was at the same time completely stupid, often vulgar, but also extremely creative. I was very sensitive to that absurd humour. »
Soon, the teenager begins to share his first creations. He will be followed by many others.
“GCB’s videos made me laugh, so I was inspired by his work. Pretty soon I found myself doing a poop a day. I would open up my editing software, push it around for a few hours and put the result on YouTube right away. There were no filters,” says Anthony, 27, with the pseudonym of Jefaischierlesgens, who was the forerunner of Jefaischierlesgens.
A community of francophone poopers is beginning to emerge. The best known of them get together on a Skype group and share obscure videos, 2010 memes and other memories of the web of that time. Several videographers are starting to poop together. Big tournaments” are organized. A mutual emulation animates the poopers who regularly refer to each other’s creations.
“That’s how the first [YTP Tennis] appeared. The principle is simple: a videographer reworks a source, sends the result to another editor, who also reworks the video before sending it back, etc. The video is then sent to the editor. It was the equivalent of an exquisite corpse on video,” says Pierre, or Rizotochaud. “We felt like we were creating something that had never been done before,” he adds.
From this community, many French memes are beginning to emerge (such as Denis Brogniart’s famous “Ah!” or “la boule magique” from a TV shopping channel). Many come from videos completely unknown to the general public. “It was one of my greatest pleasures – searching the web and the YouTube underground for obscure sources to hijack,” says GCB. Other popular shows also find favour in the eyes of the poopers: “Making Fred and Jamy talk nonsense in C’est pas sorcier, it’s always funny. Also, it’s very easy to create a gap by hijacking old cartoons such as Inspector Gadget or Pokémon. Nostalgia helps a lot... “, Rizotochaud bids.
A shift that is not only meant to make people laugh. Jefaischierlesgens, while defending himself from making politically-motivated videos, assumes it, integrating a character from the cartoon Peppa Pig – hilarious – in a video where pigs go to the slaughterhouse, is not funny. “I wanted to generate discomfort in the Internet user, to prove that another vision of YTP was possible. More subversive than making a personality say “sausage”. »
For Olivier Lalane, political commitment is in the very DNA of YTPs. “In history, hijacking in the strict sense – as it has been theorized by a revolutionary writer like Guy Debord – is political will. Long before the internet, when Americans added festive music to the Nazi synchronized marches, it was to underline their absurdity. In 2011, when an Internet user publishes a video called [FR YTP] Jean-François Copé speaks to say nothing by underlining his hesitations and language tics, it’s good to discredit him,” explains the man who is about to open his communication agency specialized in classical music. He also has no doubt that the YTPs could have an impact on the forthcoming presidential elections.
Just read Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Tweet, who publicly thanks Khaled Freak – whose musical productions can be seen as a legacy of the [YTP MV] (for Music Video) – for having diverted him to convince himself of this.
The poopers are unanimous: in 2020, the YTP has never had so much visibility. Everyone remembers a time when doing 1,000 views on one of his videos was considerable. Today, many people are still stunned by the numbers of some of their creations.
“I think there was a real switch to the general public when Antoine Daniel tweeted a YTP of Bonne nuit les petits saying it was “one of his biggest laughs in years”. Progressively popular, the YTP has experienced a new media boom,” analyses Olivier Lalane.
A media boom in which EnfluredeRenard has taken off by also offering its version of the famous cartoon by Nicolas and Pimprenelle.
Yet “Good night, Tipeu” crystallizes a lot of reproaches to the modern YTP. Special effects requiring long rendering times are ubiquitous. The video follows a common thread, proof of a much more elaborate writing. “YTPs have simply followed the YouTube professionalization and standardization curve. They smoothed themselves by turning to pop culture. Today, if many historical videographers have stopped releasing videos regularly, those that are shared are real blockbusters of poop. It’s impressive and as funny as ever, but compared to the almost home-made YTPs of 10 years ago, the result has lost a lot of its spontaneity. In the beginning, a parallel with the Oulipo movement, advocating automatic writing, was quite conceivable,” laments Olivier Lalane.
A change of perspective that Foxhound himself concedes. “Indeed, after more than seven years doing poops, I’m a little more methodical. Myself I need to create more ambitious videos and test my limits on some software. Unfortunately, I also know that this new poop format, although it inspires new generations of poopers, also discourages many of them. They believe that a poop has to reach this level of special effects while I myself am aware that it betrays a certain spirit…” confesses the young video maker who wishes to remain anonymous.
“For my part, I set up an online questionnaire to understand what made my audience laugh in my last video. I have a will to understand and optimize what I like in my content”, explains Citronxzme, a pooper from the beginning and known in the field for phonetically transcribing all these sources before diverting them through the art of sentence mixing, or [YTP-SM].
A will to test its limits that betrays another feeling: YTPs no longer fascinate their historical creators.
“Renewal is not easy. At one point it became too automatic. I wasn’t having as much fun doing poops anymore. I have temporarily stopped, but I don’t rule out making a video if inspiration comes to me. I just don’t want to force myself,” says Jefaischierlesgens, whose last video dates from the previous presidential election.
The same goes for another video maker, 123Lunatic, who has not hidden the fact that he experienced moments of depression when he was beginning to be known for his absurd videos. “When my station was shut down overnight for copyright infringement, it was almost a relief. I wasn’t even saddened. I was for people who couldn’t find this content anymore, but for me it was a chance to move on,” says the man who switched to streaming. But the YTP hasn’t left him yet. “I just injected it into other types of content, like Let’s Play. Today, it can be said that YTP is everywhere, because it has infiltrated the codes of the French Internet. »
This is all the more verifiable since many famous video makers now use poopers to edit their white label videos. “Contrary to some influencers, poopers have a willingness to get behind the content. They’re not looking to showcase their personality in their editing,” confirms Milo, aka Magnum, a 20-year-old pooper who sells his editing skills to bigger YouTubers.
Today, poop is everywhere, as Olivier Lalane explains. “Fast editing, ear rape (when a saturated thud comes up, editor’s note), and the willingness to divert from what’s being said are now seen in the videos of many mainstream YouTubers. Even Golden Mustache used the YTP codes for some of his sketches. It even goes beyond the internet with Yann Barthès’ show Quotidien, which makes Jean-Pierre Pernault say anything. »
This is why the former Sorbonne student is outraged at the lack of study that this content inspires in researchers. “The desire to waste people’s time has given rise to an artistic movement that has gradually infused itself into the French comedy scene and that can be found on many different media. Unfortunately, YTP videos are regularly deleted due to copyright issues – when this is not directly the will of the creators. There is no guarantee that we will ever be able to track the evolution of this movement. I think it would be important to keep it on a storage medium other than YouTube”.
On the historical creators’ side, YTPs seem to be part of a bygone era of their teenage years. Most don’t even look at them anymore. “I just finished my studies in a field that has nothing to do with video. I’m currently in the middle of a series of job interviews. Every day, I wonder about the future of my channel,” confesses EnfluredeRenard, who doesn’t hide his desire to make small videos for his social networks on a regular basis. “I think that YTPs have now become more popular in short format on social networks such as Twitter, Instagram or Tik Tok. YouTube is no longer the flagship platform for what is now more like shitposting. We should talk about Media Poop,” comments Rizotochaud. “For me, just as After Effects revolutionized poop, only new technologies will allow this type of content to evolve. I’m thinking, for example, of the arrival of Deepfake’s software, which I myself found quite amusing,” adds GCB.
While the inability to monetize this type of content on YouTube tends to discourage those who would like to get started today, poopers have no doubt that the next generation will be there one day. “We had the chance to participate in the democratization of a genre while playing the clown, that alone is huge. Personally, I owe a lot to the poop. Just as there are generations of YouTubers, there will be generations of poopers,” says Rizotochaud.
“There will always be people who want to put shit on YouTube,” concludes Jefaischierlesgens laconically.