The best video essays of 2022

The educational and argumentative style has become popular on video platforms over the past few years, part of a broader wave of explainer-based content on social media. It has reached the point where the form now forms an extremely large tent that covers a well of deeply profound work — or, in the words of a subdivision, a giant iceberg. We now see everything from nonverbal editing experiments to occasional vlogs with a background image known as “video essays”. (It’s come to a point where one of my favorite videos was released last year wade into these defining weeds, for thought-provoking results.)

This increase makes compiling just 10 exemplary videos a bigger challenge each year. My guiding principles when building this list were not only to have an in-depth, unique, and diverse understanding of the subject and creators, but also to strive to find video essays that really make the most of both. two parts of that name — demanding visual attention and interaction. Essays are listed in order of issue date.

Climate Fiction, Dystopias, and Human Futures by Julia Leyda and Kathleen Loock

As the prognosis surrounding global warming becomes more urgent, popular culture has taken notice and “cli-fi” has emerged as a genre of storytelling of its own. Recently used Leyd and Loock Don’t Look Up As a starting point, question the role – if any – films like this can hope to have in impacting real action and climate change reform. How powerful is the connection between the power of art to move us and tangible action?

Captain Ahab: The Secret Base’s Dave Stieb Story

No one makes documentary content like Jon Bois, Alex Rubenstein, and the rest of the crew at Dorktown. Bois is an artist who paints with data points and historical scraps, juggling all this material together in a way that feels more forward-thinking than almost anyone else making films these days. today — whether for the internet, television, or cinema. An epic four-part series about Dave Stieb, a history of also-also-running baseball, sounds ridiculous. And yet, Dorktown makes him one of the most compelling characters of the year.

[Ed. note: Secret Base is part of SB Nation, which along with Polygon is part of Vox Media. This played no part in including the video.]

Deconstruct the bridge by completely denying it

This is probably the least “essay-like” video on this list. It’s more like a college lecture, but takes place in the least academic forum imaginable: a Battlefield 5. Such unusual ventures are the mode of operation belong to Total Rejectionsa “pseudo-Marxist media guerrilla” was used Parts to explain urban design, Red Dead Redemption 2 to explain the class, and more. In Battlefield 5 The map is a reproduction of the Dutch city of Nijmegen, where the decisive battle of World War II took place. Total Refusal takes viewers on a virtual survey of the area, and in the process learns not only the history involved but the entire concept of war tourism and regeneration, questioning how culture remembers these events.

Why Panzer Dragoon Saga Is The Best RPG No One Played By Michael Saba

If this doesn’t post the 1998 Sega Saturn game Panzer Dragoon Saga to the top of your must-play list, then I don’t know what to tell you. More than just a fascinating look at a game that was amazingly ahead of its time and took years to find viewers, this video is a treatise on a pressing issue in gaming. See, if you want to play Panzer Dragoon Saga, you will almost certainly have to pirate it, which may raise some ethical concerns. Saba firmly defends piracy as a form of game preservation and archiving practice. Even if you disagree with such a conclusion, there’s no denying the issues he raises in the industry.

Nice white teachers, bad brown schools: The Hollywood Pedagogy of Urban Education by Yhara Zayd

Yhara Zayd appears for the third time in a row on our annual video essay list, and for good reason. Not content with rereading the backgrounds of other pop culture video creators, she finds both novel topics and interesting lenses about them. Here, she scrutinizes the “inspirational” story of well-intentioned white teachers making a difference in urban environments, expressed in aspects such as: Dangerous thinking and The Ron Clark Story. Most clearly, she contrasts the conventions of the genre with the harsh reality and vivid history of actual outsider interference in non-white education.

Desiree Garcia’s Intimate Threshold

Less than four minutes long, this essay is compelling nonetheless, thanks to Garcia’s relentlessly creative editing. Rather than delving into the subject of female artistic competition in film, she contrasts two examples through a contrast of nature: the 1940s. Dancing, Girl, Dancing and 2010 Black Swan. With split screens, images in watermarks, precise cutouts, and some notable use of captions, the essay makes its ideas intuitive rather than explained through. lesson.

Instagram hates its users by Jarvis Johnson

Long story short, Instagram has consistently sabotaged any real fun in using its app by trying to mimic any new trends that pop up in the cultural system. But the long story, recounted by Johnson, is much more interesting. We often forget the direct relationship between interface design and user experience, but this is a great in-depth study of how that process works, pinned to an easy-to-grasp timeline of history. Instagram’s disastrous history.

Fix my brain with Jacob Geller’s autotherapy

Jacob Geller is particularly good at drawing a web of disparate sources to discuss ideas you might not have thought of before. Here, the story of “first chat bot,” visual novel 2019 Eliza, and the 2021 game based on the app excavationU used to explore the use of artificial intelligence in modern therapy. But as the title suggests, Geller goes a step further, testing a number of different therapeutic apps aimed at helping you improve your mental health without any human therapists. His results, and what they suggest about the real intent behind these apps and how the therapy is being incorporated into contemporary society, is…well, disturbing.

Parking is everywhere and nowhere is it like What’s So Great About That?

The concept of “limited space” is now prevalent in online cultural discourse. But Grace Lee rarely tackles a topic from the same angle as others. With wide range reference points like Seinfeld, Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and the work of artist Guillaume Lachapelle, she discusses how parking lots appear in the media and in a broader perspective of how they and spaces are Industrial-urban analogies take shape in our daily lives. Lee’s essays demand your attention like some others; Look away and you might miss a great little picture prank. Because of this, while her videos are rarely longer than 15-20 minutes, they often contain a lot more information than you might expect.

How Degrow Can Save the World According to Andrewism

Andrew Sage describes himself not only as an anarchist but as a “solar scientist” – focused on solutions for a sustainable future for humanity. In this video, he sheds light on one of the key features of the demise of capitalism: the idea of ​​unlimited industrial and economic growth. The insistence on the practice of “reduction” can often cause fear of some vague loss in one’s standard of living. But Sage refutes this and many other arguments against degradation, while building a more inspiring and hopeful vision for an environmentally sound, equitable existence.


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