YouTube Poop: Meme as Art, Community – by “William A – YLT2012”

(Disclaimer 1: The linked videos and those related to it may contain offensive content, sudden loud noises, flashing effects, and really offensive content)

(Disclaimer 2: Based on comments received from much more knowledgeable people, this article may not fully represent the current state of YouTube Poop. I have therefore made some edits. Please refer to the comments for more info.)

Imagine how Dorothy must have felt when she was swept up by that cyclone and plopped into the bright land of Oz. Now imagine if, two minutes before the storm, she had drunk three Four Lokos, eaten a large pizza topped with shrooms, and done a thousand jumping jacks. The result is probably something resembling YouTube Poop, a thriving art form that lurks in the underbelly of YouTube. As its name implies, YouTube Poop involves video remixes that reduce their source material into nonsense. The resulting video (called a “poop”) subverts its original content by slicing and dicing the video and audio, adding visual effects, and mashing several videos into one. Far from an incidental outgrowth of the YouTube culture, YouTube Poop draws from a heritage of the vidding community (not to mention being a sterling example of the fair use doctrine). And it’s a large community; there are craploads of poops on YouTube for our viewing (dis)pleasure. A good place to start may be “The Valley Place What Contains Some Dinosaurs” by the venerated (and retired) pooper WalrusGuy.

It's like a cross between a pineapple!

Poops are usually humorous, whether intentionally or not. Most of the humor draws from the pooper’s reinterpretation of memes. In WalrusGuy’s poop, an episode of “Valley of the Dinosaurs” gets outfitted with sex jokes, dark humor, and general absurdity. Another example of YouTube Poop’s memetic flywheel is found in one of the most common sources used for poop: the cutscenes of the CD-I computer game “Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon” and “Zelda: The Faces of Evil.” For whatever reason – the terrible animation or the absurd dialogue, most likely – these cutscenes are popular among poopers. Take a look at the opening scene from “The Wand of Gamelon.”

I wonder what's for dinner?

Now compare it to “jonathan swift returns from the dead to eat a cheese sandwich” by madanonymous.

Don't worry, Zelda.

The visuals have been twisted beyond belief, disorienting the viewer. Madanonymous’ other works draw on this same technique, heavily manipulating familiar sources into oblivion. Other poops may take a more story-oriented approach, such as CaptainOhYeah’s “Bubble Buddy slaughters his victims without pity or remorse,” which uses another popular source: Spongebob.

Bubble Buddy is evil.

Given YouTube Poops’ close relationship with memes, it’s not surprising that they generate their own memes. These memes, or “fads,” involve a short source video that spawns hundreds of remixed responses. One fad, from 2010, used a short clip from a “Rugrats” episode, in which Stu Pickles has an existential crisis about chocolate pudding.

Because I've lost control of my life.

Fads answer the question “What else can you do to this 21-second clip?” by providing response after response after response. It’s here where the community behind YouTube Poop is in full force. It’s best to consider YouTube Poop as an art, a collaborative medium in which video culture is the hero, reinterpreting a source to often hilarious effect. Yes, it’s bizarre, but it’s a wonderful example of the sharing culture that YouTube has created, the cross relation of obscurities and tropes.

For the history and general theory of poops, read here. For more poops, type “youtube poop” into the site’s search bar and enjoy your trip to Oz. refer to the suggestions given by commenters below.