Recently, I have, as many others, fallen into the genre of YouTube videos and channels known as “Longform Video Essays.” If you are unaware, bless you. Log off now. Save yourself. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole! Still there? Alright, well, Longform Video Essay channels are basically YouTube channels and creators that make videos on specific, random topics that delve into the minutiae of the subject matter discussing background history, production, positives, negatives, theories, etc. Many times, most often really, these video essays discuss some form of media: film, television, books, music, video games, etc. Rarely are these videos under half an hour with many of the most well known and infamous videos lasting several hours. Now, there are several highly accomplished and recommended YouTube channels and creators to look into if you are remotely interested in the genre such as Dan Olsen of Folding Ideas, Maggie Mae of Maggie Mae Fish, Joel of Big Joel, and many, many others; however, the one I am focusing on is Harris Michael Brewis aka HBomberGuy.
So, I cannot say that Brewis is the best video essayer. There are several other individuals who are far more popular with higher quality production and a bigger following. He has not made the most viral or longest video essay by a far margin. His release schedule leaves a lot to be desired even among within this genre where videos, even connected multipart series, can take months and months to see the light of day. There are probably many channels and creators that would be easier to jump into and follow than Brewis. To be perfectly frank, he wasn’t really even the one that I happened to find after being introduced to the genre. However, he is the one that I have found to be the most enjoyable and one I keep going back to regardless of how many times I have seen his stuff.
There is not a specific reason I can state with absolute certainty why that is, but I think it has mostly to do with Brewis willingness to put himself into his work. Let me explain. Obviously, there is some aspect of the creator that goes into their creation. It is inherent to the process of making art regardless of medium or genre. While the whole “death of the author” and “separation of artist and art” ideologies have found fertile ground, it is equally true that it is impossible that a creator’s beliefs, experiences, and ideas influence and are embedded in their creation. And this is true in the genre of video essays. The creators’ selves can in some way be found in their works. The difference I have found with Brewis compared to the other essayists I have come across is that he is sincere in his placement of his self in his work. That is not to suggest that they are lying or simply presenting a facade, but more so that other creators seem to have a veneer of sarcasm and separation between themselves and the full subject matter.
The best example I can think of this can be found in Brewis’ video on H.P. Lovecraft. While discussing the infamous author and his stories, there is still an obvious appreciation of the work that Brewis struggles with all while taking the audience on a journey of personal growth, development, understanding, and empathy amid the educational information and analysis. So, in essence many, if not most, of the video essays I have managed to find and enjoy are obviously well researched, intelligent, and entertaining. HBomberGuy’s channel is no different in that regard, yet listening to him seems, and feels, more like hearing a friend talk passionately about a personal interest than a senior or teacher instruct you about some material.
Perhaps, that is simply a personal preference or perception. Still, I would highly recommend checking out Harris Michael Brewis channel and work whenever you have a chance. Start with the Lovecraft video linked above or his video game essays on FromSoftware games or Deus Ex or Fallout. Those are all pretty good. And if those don’t interest you then go and find some that do even if it is from another creator or channel. I think you will be surprised by what you will find and learn and the rabbit holes you will fall into.