the best way to understandbathroom, the YouTube channel dedicated to weird DIY tutorials, "hacks" and "funny pranks", takes hours of watching until your brain turns into a glowing neon ooze that somehow doubles as lip gloss.
Because that's exactly the kind of thing that Troom Troom does: do it yourself, how to do it that no one can or should duplicate. The most popular videos currently on the channel are tips on how to bring food and makeup into the classroom in a ridiculously boring way:someone suggestRemove glue from a glue stick and place a block of hard cheese in the container whileanother recommendsCut an apple in half, use an Exact-O knife to remove the core, and fill in with an eyeshadow palette. of the apple!
Troom Troom is just one of many content factories from mysterious international origins that have played with YouTube's algorithm with shiny, click-generating thumbnails and SEO keywords like "DIY", "hack" and "prank wars". And to differentiate themselves from the thousands of other channels offering exactly the same service, they turned to increasingly bizarre content.
That's how you end up in oneVideowhich recently went viral on Twitter and features a woman taking a (very long) lock of hair, trimming it to less than half an inch, and attaching it to the end of a pencil to make an eyeshadow brush. This, produced by the equally wild YouTube channel5 minutes stirring, apparently it's easier to apply eyeshadow than with your fingers.
And it still works. Currently, 5-Minute Crafts has the fifth most subscribers of any YouTube channel at nearly 40 million. Aftersocial blade, its more than 10 billion combined video views mean annual revenue of between $2 million and $34 million (the discrepancy here is due to different cost-per-impression opportunities). Troom Troom, who currently has nearly 10 million subscribers and nearly 3 billion total views of his surreal pastel-colored videos, is estimated to earn between $500,000 and $8 million a year.
This is the worst DIY I've ever seen.pic.twitter.com/wWywzyXtlV- me (@malicioustaurus)October 29, 2018
Troom Troom and 5-Minute Crafts are not only huge successes in their own right, but are also part of the growing network of videos reacting to the website's terrifying content, creating a loop that generates millions of views for YouTube users. who are involved.
But creators I spoke to also raised concerns about these types of channels, ranging from their clickbait strategies to plagiarism and manipulation of children's behavior online. YouTube's DIY section may not be all rainbows and unicorns, even if the thumbnails are full of them.
The intriguing mystery of Troom Troom
Troom Troom's basic weirdness doesn't just come from its absurdly pointless procedures. They're weird because they're voiced by a voice actress with a perfect American accent, who speaks an English that sounds like it's been through three layers of Google Translate. They're weird because they have a rotating cast of very skinny white women who go by nicknames like "blue-eyed girl", "redhead", "Mrs. Smith" or "Dolly" are known, and sometimes even weirder because those identities alternate between them. They're weird because it's impossible to tell if they're a satire or part of a malicious Russian cyberattack targeting YouTube-obsessed kids around the world (but more on that later).
Troom Troom is not only strange in content and tone, but also incredibly elusive. No one can agree on who makes the videos, who owns the company, where it is based, and who makes money from it. But this inconceivability invites speculation, and Internet sleuths have managed to decipher a few key pieces: first, that theThe site is registered under the name of Eugene Miroshnykov, and second, that many of the videos were likely filmed in Odessa, Ukraine, judging by the Ukrainian Cyrillic script on many of the products used and in the locations labeledInstagram the dream of dreams.
The identities of the actresses were also widely publicized.exposed through their Instagram accounts. Most of them say they live in Odessa and are models and artists. The channel started in 2015, and if you look back at the first few videos, it's clear that Troom Troom started with standard DIY and only reached its full craze and biggest views about a year ago.
But there are still thosenecessary conspiracy theories: that Troom Troom is actually being run by a millennial woman in San Francisco, or that the girls of Troom Troom are being held against their will, forced to make weird DIY videos for ransom. Two media that also ran stories about Troom TroomI couldn't find out much more.
That's why I was surprised when the email I sent to the address posted on the Troom Troom YouTube page got a response. In fact, the sender's name was listed as Eugene Miroshnykov, confirming what he saw on Reddit, but after some back-and-forth, the name was changed. To protect his anonymity – he expressed concern that detectives might discover his phone number or other personal information – I agreed to refer to him as Zeon.
Zeon told me that Troom Troom was actually founded by a collective of professional artists "who wanted to do something fun". Zeon is not one of those founders: he says he was hired when the channel already had a million subscribers and has described his work as a "salesman". The screenwriters and directors live in Europe and the US and collect video ideas via Skype and execute them in their own team. He described the company's structure as similar to a"Holocracy",where there is no top-down management and instead the content is “the result of the collective mind”.
"We were inspired by the [world of] DIY text and image tutorials," he wrote. “Most of our team [is made up of] professional artists, so they usually found all the tutorials in text but not videos. We are trying to solve this problem. First of all, they were more educational and serious videos that [were] funny. We are currently trying to mix entertainment with DIY value. We've found that any video should be fun if it's going to engage viewers, not just bore them.”
This explains the powerful impact that narrative and action have on the average dream video: a "funny prank" video is never just a list of pranks; is a story about how, say, "Dolly" sticks a plastic lizardin "Samantha" toothpaste and then replaces the inside of a lemon with a tennis ball. Later, Samantha gets revenge on Dolly by cutting a hole in an iPhone case and placing it on top of a book to make it look like Dolly's phone was literally burned. The back and forth only gets more complicated from there (I kid you not).
Zeon says Troom Troom is independently owned, has no influence and is profitable. "[It has] plans to grow, but the address is confidential at this time," she adds. Zeon declined to connect me with the founders, nor did he provide further details about his or his colleagues' backgrounds, but I was able to easily find detailed Facebook and LinkedIn accounts associated with the name in his subsequent emails. leads me to ask believing that Zeon is indeed a real person.
The origins of 5-Minute Crafts are, for what it's worth, a lot less mysterious. Crafts in 5 minutes is owned bysoul publications, which claims to produce 1,500 videos a month, has 550 employees and operates 40 Facebook pages in 10 languages. She has mega popular YouTube channels likebright side(animated videos that are a mix of riddles, facts and "tricks") and the 8 million people Facebook pageYou are handsome(the default content of your Facebook content farm). Neither 5-Minute Crafts nor TheSoul Publishing responded to interview requests.
Notably, TheSoul Publishing is also based in Eastern Europe. after a2017 Forbes article, the company was founded by Pavel Radaev and Marat Mukhametov, both with experience in social media content, based in Russia. To answer the implied question, unlike many viral Facebook posts that have come out of Russia in recent years, TheSoul Publishing's content does not appear to be overtly political.
5-Minute Crafts has four times as many subscribers as Troom Troom, but is supported by a company with 550 employees. This raises the still unanswered question: how many people work for Troom Troom? The channel can post a 10-15 minute video every day, which requires a relatively large team, not to mention a lot of money. How they can achieve this is generally not clear.
Where craft meets clickbait
To understand the rise of whimsical DIY videos, you need to understand the rest of YouTube. Videos on the platform are largely successful based on how well they match popular SEO keywords, whether they create a sense of urgency in the title (which usually means using capital letters and lots of exclamation points), and an image of Use of visually impressive thumbnail. – therefore you will see many disembodied lips biting a foreign body.
"Over the last year, I've noticed these really awesome, oversaturated Photoshop thumbnails popping up in my featured video feed," says Cristine Rotenberg, the 30-year-old YouTuber behind the nail art channel.just nalogical, which has 6 million subscribers. "It's really weird. It's like a lot of channels are noticing at the same time that Photoshopped images, where things are placed close to the mouth, are getting a lot of clicks."
Weird designs with bait miniatures are a strategy that many channels have embraced but other traditional crafting players shy away from.sent, BuzzFeed's home vertical, has been investing in projects requested by its audience and is eager to actually try (as opposed to, say, an insanely complicated DIY mini box with Altoids as a joke, likea video of Troom Troom offers). On these "regular" craft channels, for lack of a better term, you'll find instructions for things like decorating fall porches, making headboards, and carving miniature pumpkins that reveal the real product.
Erin Phraner, Nifty's supervising producer, acknowledged the pressures YouTube creative channels face to play with the algorithm and rely on compelling titles. Nifty also had their designs stolen from other creative outlets. "It's the reality of playing in this space," says Phraner.
"Those kinds of thumbnails and titles and crazy gimmick designs definitely tend to attract clicks," he adds. "But I think we have a feeling that maybe you see it in the feed and click once to see it because it seems a little crazy, but our whole business is trying to build trust and get things done." the people they really want to take home."
For its part, YouTube says it has already done the work to combat clickbait on the site. According to YouTube, the algorithm rewards longer play times compared to video clicks since 2012. For example, if users watch a video for a few seconds, realize it's not what they expected, and click on it, that video will not appear in user feeds as often as a viewer has appeared.
Also, the term "clickbait" might not even apply if the actual Troom Troom and 5-Minute Crafts tutorials are crazy as they are. Zeon explained that Troom Troom's strategy is the opposite of Nifty's strategy: videos are about entertainment, not services. And it's their quirky entertainment value that makes them perfectly suited to YouTube's current climate of shaming and the commentary surrounding that shaming.
Craftsmanship, commentary, and clumsy comedy
"There's a lot of unintentional humor in the Troom-Troom videos," says Rotenberg of Simply Nailogical. "I could dream up dream skits every week and laugh for the rest of my life."
So far, he's only made a few. On a,she tries dream dream„20 Bananentricks', including making a 'banana sleeve' out of felt and painting a smile on a banana peel; in another she triessome back to school jokes, sePutting hay in someone's backpack.
Rotenberg's videos are just a small part of the cottage industry that is the reaction video dream. Other popular breeders likeDanny Gonzalez,cody ko, jJarvis Johnsongot millions of views poking fun at Troom Troom and 5-Minute Crafts using YouTube's standard reaction video format, in which the presenter talks to the camera and reacts to clips from other videos.
It's a profitable cycle for both the reactionaries and their targets. Johnson, who is 26 and also works full-time at Patreon in San Francisco, says oneReaction video he made via 5 minute craftIt was a "huge catalyst" in the growth of her YouTube channel, which now has nearly half a million subscribers. Since then he has published aMini-investigation in Troom Troom, as well as a video about the “dark side of light side“, the sister channel of 5-Minute Craft.
He says that while these types of channels are pretty harmless on the surface, he shares concerns about clickbait, plagiarism and their large child audience. But ultimately, reaction videos of him started out as a joke, or rather, a joke-telling exercise. "I found commentary videos to be a great way to write comedy that also fits with what the YouTube algorithm encourages," he explains. "I'm in a 5 minute craft video called '20 tips if you spend your life in front of the computer' At that point, I felt like I'd struck internet gold because I didn't see anyone else talking about their preposterous gimmicks.
Because that's it: Troom Troom videos are incredibly parody-ready. Much of the joy of watching them stems from their seeming absurdity: the impressive narrative, the fake Disney Channel setting, the strangeness of the designs.
Troom Troom videos are arguably part of Cringe YouTube, the ever-growing network of weird and serious videos it encompasses.tik tok compilations,Instagram- Comedians, jEx Vine guys with scary hair, between others. It's hard to pinpoint a YouTube video that isn't a little weird in its own way, but on Cringe YouTube it's not just the original videos that get views, it's the never-ending cycle of reactions and comments.Youtuber with most subs in the world, the most subscribed YouTube channel of all time, for example, has made a career out of poking fun at other YouTubers' attempts at sincerity.
As for why the genre is so popular right now, Johnson suspects it's because of "mystery, community, and 'so bad it's good'". When someone sees something super absurd and can share it with someone else, there is catharsis.
He also compares Troom Troom to a film that is widely considered one of the bestunintentionally ridiculous movies of all time. "As someone who is a die-hard fan of the Tommy Wiseau filmQuarto,I see a lot of similarities betweenQuartoand Troom Troom,” he adds. "I feel like I should come up with a conspiracy theory about how Troom Troom is short for 'the room the room.'“
and much moreQuarto,The question about Troom Troom, 5-Minute Crafts and whoever made a crazy video for the internet will always be the same: are they involved in the prank?
In the case of Troom Troom, the creators seem to embrace the absurd, even if it's not intentionally ironic. Aware of the brand's intense and morbid allure, Zeon says that often "the story creates the craft", which means that at least some Troom-Troom videos were not produced with the intention of teaching people anything: they are just for fun.
But is the weird YouTube DIY an exercise in satire? Probably not. And though there may be no appetiteglue cheese, there is certainly an appetite to look at it.
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