This interview is part of a series. To read more, check out this week’s Sci+Tech article, .organization!
The McGill Daily (MD): First, what does “LeftTube” mean to you? Is it a community, a genre, neither, both?
Eric, from the channel Curio (E): That’s interesting. I actually tweeted about this yesterday. From my perspective, right now, LeftTube is NOT a community, but it absolutely can be, and can be much more than any other YouTube community can. When we look at communities, there has to be conversation, commonalities within the group to some degree. It would be fair to say that what we’re looking for in an online community is evidence of what Foucault might call a “discursive community”. The thing about YouTube is, it’s not designed to build discursive communities, it’s designed to create rockstar creator / fan dynamics. So is LeftTube a community? No. Right now it is a group of friends with really big overlapping fanbases, and some much smaller creators trying to foster a discursive community/convert that common fanbase into one. With a little work though, yes I think it could be a very promising community oriented toward political activism.
MD: What do you see as your goal in creating content, and do you think LeftTube creators share any consistent goals?
E: “Gamers keep turning into nazis and I’d like it if they’d not” is the sort of joke answer I give a lot, and not only is it true, but I feel like that is a shared goal across Left Tube creators. However, I have other goals as well, and I feel that they do too. I want to educate people on theory, although there are many creators who see that much more as their primary responsibility. I think it is absolutely necessary in order for me to achieve what I want to achieve but I don’t see it as my primary goal. My primary goal is to further the leftist political discourse online and drive us as a group towards a place where we make real world change. Organising absolutely heckin works, and I’m trying increasingly in my content to get across to people that not only is that the case, but WE can organise. I want to be a part of the discourse that is developing our ideas, and I want to help to get more people involved in that discourse. I want to get people to organise both online and in their local spaces IRL to make real change through direct action.
MD: Has your experience pursuing those things through YouTube been mostly positive, negative, mixed? How do you think the nature of the platform affects the content you create?
E: That’s a strange question because I don’t understand the metrics really. I delete a lot of nazi comments, but I don’t really care about that…. for me the hardest things have just been in my personal life – money is quite tight and making content is very time consuming.
MD: Is there anything you’d like people unfamiliar with LeftTube to know?
E: Probably that these creators are, by a solid margin, the funniest and most entertaining creators on the site. I think it goes without saying that we’ve got some pretty interesting things to say, but the thing that I think was a surprise for me coming in is how hilarious lefty creators are.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.