YouTube’s Video Essays: lazy, yet educational afternoons

Since the first Covid-19 lockdown, my screen time has gone up significantly. At that time, I was still in high school and learned my final exams were canceled. Suddenly, I graduated early and had a long summer vacation. At first, I was enjoying all this free time and I was catching up on all my favorite series and films. However, as time passed, I started to become bored with the content I was consuming. Even though there are plenty of series and films out there, I felt like I was consuming the same media and felt a change was in order. This was when I rediscovered YouTube. At first it was just the occasional funny video, but during the summer of 2020, I discovered something wonderful: YouTube video essays. These video essays consisted of YouTubers analyzing a form of media in an enjoyable yet curious way for the viewer to enjoy. The content of these videos could vary immensely. One YouTuber might want to enlighten the world of how their favorite movie is perfect, while others might discuss some more serious topics in the film industry like racism or misogyny. Today, I would like to focus on one of my favorite sub-genres of these video essays: fashion analysis video essays.

Fashion analysis video essays, what are they?

Fashion analysis video essays. The name might already say enough, but let me lay you a bit of information with an example. Fate: the Winx Saga (2021) is a live-action adaptation of the beloved animated show Winx Club (2004), produced by Netflix. Just like me, many fans were disappointed in how the show decided to dress its characters. The original show was known for it’s early 2000’s fashion and glittery outfits, yet this show had none of these. Instead, Netflix ended up on a more darker look and with far less exciting outfits. The charm, but also the youthfulness of the characters were lost. This sparked tons of creative fans to think of their own versions of what the show might look like, if taken place in the real world. Fans would analyze what made the original show so great and creative and realized their own take on a real-life version of it. It is examples like these, that make up the world of fashion analysis video essays on YouTube. Of course, this sub-genre of YouTube has not just emerged this year and thus they also analyze classic films or series like Clueless (1995) or Gossip Girl (2007).

As an art history student, but also an artist, I have grown a love for the designs and concept behind all the artworks I have come across in my life. It not only helps me understand the works of art better, but it also just fascinates me how these works might have looked completely different. This fascination is not only limited to great works of art like those of Rembrandt. Even something as simple as the outfit the main character of a film wears can be fascinating. Sure, the acting and story of film is a crucial part of what makes a film. However, the characters and worlds are left empty without the design choices. Without these, the characters would feel out of place, or the world might feel like it doesn’t match up to the eccentric characters.

Don’t know where to start your video essay journey?

One of my favorite YouTubers that covers these types of videos is Mina Le. Mina not only analyzes the costume designs of films, but she also covers fashion trends and discusses the many issues surrounding the fashion industry today. What interests me most, however, is Mina’s way of analyzing. She not only includes her own opinions on costumes and fashion, but she also utilizes academic resources. For example, she tries to figure out a series’ or film’s historical accuracy by using examples of the time period it is set in. Moreover, Mina’s videos are just generally delightful to watch, as she puts not only effort in the research but also the appearance of her videos. For example, title frames or notes in her videos are often displayed in an old-fashioned way, like polaroid frames or silent-film text frames. Not only that, but she also adds subtitles, which is always a plus for me and any other non-native English speaker.

So for anyone wishing to dive more into their favorite series or film, why not try watching a video essay? And if you don’t know where to start your journey, why not have a look at this video:

Mina Le, ”restyling Fate: The Winx Saga because netflix needs the help”, March 4, 2021, video,