May 24, 2019

ContraPoints Is Here to Rescue the Internet

““The first time I used milk in a video was because I thought it looked like semen, and I thought that was funny,” says Natalie Wynn, otherwise known as the American YouTuber, ContraPoints. She’s chuckling on the other end of the phone as she dispels this Reddit myth that she uses milk in her videos to reclaim it from the alt-right, which has taken to wielding it as a symbol of white supremacy. “There’s a complex semiotics of milk,” she admits, “but why did I pour milk on my face? Was I thinking about its connection to power or sex? I don’t know; I probably just laughed!”

These sorts of elaborate theories aren’t uncommon when it comes to Wynn’s work, and they’re evidence of the intense attention people pay to her videos. Combining humor, drag, and philosophy, she is one of the most incisive and compelling video essayists on YouTube. Her latest video ‘Gender Critical’ (a term radical feminists have taken to using in reaction to being called TERFs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]) racked up almost half a million views in a day. From the context of comedy to transphobic memes, ContraPoints is doing the seemingly impossible: making nuanced and controversial political debates both sexy and engaging.

Wynn “tinkered” on YouTube for more than a decade before arriving at this formula. To begin with, she was “a minor participant in YouTube atheism content because that’s what you did as a person with opinions in 2008.” But in 2016, she began ContraPoints: a response to the atmosphere she saw building online. “I noticed a surge of political content around GamerGate in 2014, and it was pretty right-wing—or at least anti-progressive,” she tells me, citing a spectrum of content ranging from the centrist to the straight-up Neo-Nazi. She decided to create her own videos, and these “tinker-toy attempts” at deconstructing social justice issues through a left-wing lens soon caught on. More importantly, they became a creative outlet.”

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