The Great YouTube Epic

To kick off this year’s year-end Tedium awards, we honor a video that may have done more good for creator culture than anything created before or since.

By Ernie Smith

I know I just wrote about this one a few weeks ago, but it is so obviously our video of the year that I can’t not write about it again.

Best You Tube Video 2023

Yeah, I know it’s just a picture. Trophies are expensive.

In a takedown of aggressive plagiarism practices undertaken by YouTuber creators like James Somerton, Harris “Hbomberguy” Brewis created a film so epic and so great that, if we thought of video essays in the same category as traditional films, it might win something. It is full of creative ideas—just enough to keep your attention during a runtime that gets perilously close to four hours. (Raise your hand if you remember when YouTube videos had a 10-minute time limit.)

Four hours or no, it got 11 million views, and counting.

But more importantly, it is a video with lasting impact. By highlighting the issues he does (including in a secondary video which itself got 2 million views), by putting in the research to tell the story he’s trying to tell, and by contextualizing a perceived “victimless crime” as something that does harm people, Brewis and his producer Kat Lo found a way to make a real impact, forging something that may change creator culture going forward.

Since the release of the initial video at the beginning of December, Brewis has done a number of interviews highlighting his thinking around the clip and the issues he highlighted. In one of those interviews, with PinkNews, he noted that one of the promises made during the video, to pay creators affected by James Somerton’s blatant and aggressive patterns of plagiarism, turned into something quite significant—likely to financially benefit lots of people.

Of Somerton’s effective disappearance from the internet, he said:

To me, his career ending is the least interesting part. Like his career was over the instant anyone ever talked about this because there’s so much of it. What I wanted was something good to come out of it which is why it was important to me to give the money away and to recommend new creators people could be watching.

(Somerton later apologized. It didn’t go well.)

There were a lot of great videos this year, some of which reshaped our relationships with the world around us or got us to think about new works in fascinating ways. But Hbomberguy’s video turned the lens on the culture that he’s a part of, highlighting how easy it is for people to rip off articles, videos, and documentaries, and get financial benefit from it, without any thought or consideration for the original creators.

There’s no question. It’s Tedium’s pick for the YouTube video of the year.


How One Building Changed Filmmaking: This clip, from the channel Blocks and Boroughs, is the only thing they’ve published so far, but it nonetheless is a fascinating document of how much popular culture can be shaped by a single group of artists. Well-timed to Greta Gerwig’s breakout year thanks to Barbie.

The Deceptive World of Ghost Kitchens: Eddy Burback has a mustache like Groucho Marx but an obsession with mainstream junk culture. This year he published videos on late-night TV, the Margaritaville restaurant chain, and (just recently) the Las Vegas Sphere. The Sphere is a worthy video, but this one makes the list for me, because of its utter obsession with an utterly banal idea. (MrBeast presumably noticed.)


Have any favorites of your own? I just kicked off a thread on Mastodon. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Find this one an interesting read? Share it with a pal—and thanks again for reading!

Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

Find me on: Website Twitter