As a veteran YouTube comment-section reader, I recently mentioned that a lot of old music on YouTube (or old anything, really, but especially music) attracts comments in this form:
“I’m 16 and I think this music is better than the music today.”
These comments used to get a lot of “likes” and whatever came before “likes,” which I guess is why they were written, but people have started to get tired of them, and rightly. Because, first of all, there’s a sneaking suspicion that some of these commenters are pretending to be teenagers because it makes their retro taste in music seem cooler; if you’re really a teenager, you go around on the internet pretending to be older, not announcing to the world that you’re a teenager.
Though the “I’m a teenager and I like old music” comment is, as I said, starting to lose its mojo, the Bieber Rule still remains fairly strong. This is the rule that any YouTube comments section will eventually feature an argument about Justin Bieber, usually beginning in this form: “Back then they had real music. Today we have Justin Bieber. What happened?” (A variant of this turns up in the comments section of any classic Disney clip: “This is REAL Disney! Not like that Hannah Montana crap.”)
Another one you often see, somewhat related to the Bieber Rule, is the statement that Back Then people were creative, and today there’s no more creativity and originality. (Back Then can be any time from the Renaissance to the late 1990s, depending on what’s being commented on.) This comment will get a number of Likes and responses, until finally someone chimes in with a comment about how there is good stuff out there today, you just have to know how to look for it.
The classic YouTube comment, of course, which will never go away – and probably never should – is just repeating a line that’s in the video. This is actually useful because the more quotes turn up in the comments section, the easier it becomes to search for the clip on Google. But when the direct quote gets a lot of likes, this will lead to not one but several comments complaining “wow, the top comment is just a quote from the clip?” or the same quote followed by “There, like my comment too!”
With all of this – and even with the political arguments that inevitably erupt – YouTube comments are if anything better than the comments on a lot of entertainment sites; there’s a lot of awful stuff, of course, but there’s also lots of enthusiasm, which is rare on other sites. (For example, the IMDb boards abound in aggressive trolls going to the board of a film and saying “I don’t understand why this is supposed to be so great. Explain it to me!” There’s some of that on YouTube, but they’re usually outweighed by expressions of enthusiasm.) Still, I’ll be happy to see the day when fake teenagers and Bieber-haters become a distant memory.
One stock comment that turns up with surprising frequency: someone who grew up watching a cartoon dubbed (into German, into English, into Italian, and so on) will post on a YouTube clip of the cartoon and say that the dubbed voices were better. I guess it makes sense that if you grew up watching Homer Simpson in German or a Japanese cartoon in English, you’d be disappointed hearing the original voices on YouTube, but I still find it a little odd how often I see that particular comment.