Glorious, Cringey, or Hilarious? Analyzing My 2016 YouTube Run
I recently heard an NBA player talking about his tattoos in an interview. He said there are a bunch of them that he wouldn’t get today, but doesn’t regret any of them because each one represents something that mattered to him during a specific moment in his life.
Before moving to Hungary to teach English I was told, “Write as much as you can.” I took that advice, journaling and publishing a blog regularly to remember the two-year experience. Towards the end of my time there, I also started making videos.
It began with creating for and with students, including a blurry but wonderful LipDub with my fourth graders to the song “Walk” by Kwabs, which is still my most viewed video by far. From there, I tried out random ideas like Subtitles in Real Life and Famous Last Words. I interviewed a buddy while we drank red wine, the intro bit taking about 30 seconds too long.
I loved the entire process. I would think of a concept, write and develop it, and model the style after popular YouTubers my students liked and SNL videos of the day. I would get friends and students involved whenever I could, creating the closest thing to a theater production that I knew how. My wife Kendahl played along, filming everything on my iPod touch and being super duper supportive. I’m honestly most proud of the “Must Have Done Something Right” Relient K intro that accompanied each video.
3 1/2 years later, I ask a simple question about these videos: were they Glorious, Cringey, or Hilarious?
“Wise Words with DJ Mr. Matthew”
It all started with this. A few of my seventh grade boys showed me this hilarious, not-sure-if-this-is-serious motivational video from DJ Khaled in which he repeatedly barks, “Another One.” As the school year wound to a close, and I was busy preparing my seventh graders for their intermediate English exams, I decided to make a spoof that would also serve as inspiration. This is still one of my favorite memories making something creative and my favorite video I’ve ever made. Despite the terrible quality, I’d like to think this one still holds up 3 ½ years later.
“Shia LaBeouf ‘Just Do It’ Hungary Edition”
I couldn’t let my eighth graders off the hook without embarrassing myself a little bit for them too, so I decided to spoof Shia LeBeouf’s inspirational video with one of my own while preparing them for their English exams. Kendahl helped me with the arm tattoos, rat tail with masking tape that’s definitely visible, and “green screen” made out of a blanket. Out of context, this one is pretty bad. In the moment, it was amazing.
“Who Is Matty C Fresh?”
If this video was made by anyone but me I would relentlessly make fun of it. I went for some “bits” that I thought were funny, such as how everyone starts their videos with “Hey Guys!” You don’t get into any substance until one full minute into the video. I riff on the “skills” I can do with my video-making “equipment,” and do a brutal fake-slow-motion crawl towards a tub of ice cream. Please don’t watch this one. Or do, but go easy.
“Dance Lesson with Matty C”
I had some TIME on my hands at this point. School was over, we had nothing to do, and the video-making was keeping me busy and the creative juices flowing. I learned a 30-second kpop dance for this one, gave an ode to Edwin McCain, and set the record straight on slow dancing. Looking back, this one’s probably about 3 minutes too long.
“I Got the Keys”
At this point, I was starting to realize I only had the capacity to make short, quick-hitting videos. I based this one almost entirely on Saturday Night Live’s “Bad Girls Do It Well” video which I unfortunately cannot find now. I remember publishing this video at Heathrow while connecting to our final flight home, marking a major life transition. The concept of a one-liner followed by a badass clip covered by the same music was super interesting to me.
“ULTIMATE BIRTHDAY WATER/PUSH-UP CHALLENGE!”
This is a turning point in the video creation phase for me. You can quickly tell that I had moved back to the USA and had less time on my hands. I was obviously interested in TRYING TO GET PEOPLE’S ATTENTION with the video title. The clips get a bit cleaner, I still love the “mom, get out of my room!” bit, and I’m proud of the campaign for charity:water this video helped create.
In hindsight, this is when I started to finally figure it out. It’s fast, funny, and brings back great memories of the Rio Olympics. Watch this one just for the Usain “banana” Bolt clip. If I do say so myself, it’s golden.
There are a million things you could change about these videos to make them better. Most of them are awkward, unfunny, and poorly produced. But, like tattoos, there is something about each of these videos that drives my mind back to specific moments in my life. They remind me of an important part of my journey and of who I was during that time — creative, funny, a bit reckless, someone who cared a lot about his job and wanted to make a difference. I don’t want to forget that person. I’m thankful for this awkward ink, forever embedded in the web for all to see, and I wouldn’t change a thing.