YouTube’s End-of-the-Year Video Is Insanely Comprehensive, and Gleeful to a Fault

Salt Bae, fidget spinners and more than 300 stars

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

It’s impossible to keep track of all of the pop culture references, memes and famous faces in YouTube’s latest Rewind video.
The seven-minute long effort immerses you in the culture of 2017, with an introduction by Stephen Colbert. While there are references to some of the devastation of the year—news footage of hurricanes, for instance—YouTube mostly keeps things upbeat, colorful, goofy. It’s odd.
To revisit 2017 through YouTube’s lens is to see a year of cheer, slime, Daddy Yankee and Salt Bae. YouTube stars like Dan + Phil, Liza Koshy, Casey Neistat, The Dolan Twins and Lilly Singh are featured.

At first, it’s fun to look at things through that lens. That is, until you realize that in ignoring one of the biggest protests in the history of the country, constant threats of nuclear war, the #MeToo campaign, Puerto Rico’s power needs, and so much more, in pushing those narratives to the background and re-contextualizing the year we devalue the current state of the world, there’s an icky, not-quite-right feeling.
It’s easy to see why YouTube would want to paint a pretty picture. The resulting video is a mishmash of joy that is a genuine pleasure to watch. And you could easily make the argument that in dark times we need entertainment like this. That’s true, though given the context of a rewind of the year it’s hard to see the video as pure entertainment. You can’t rewind the year and forget most of the news stories we’re all still talking about without looking like you’re trying to sweep things under the rug.


@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.