I am a fan of anything that goes into great depth to analyze media or the humanities, whether that be Wikipedia articles on niche linguistic concepts, articles analyzing album themes, or what I’ll be talking about in this article: YouTube video essays. There are a wide variety: ones analyzing movies or TV shows, ones discussing political concepts, and more. I also believe that there’s much to learn from these videos aside from the ideas that they posit, such as topics to use in one’s own writing and ways of structuring one’s own writing, and they can even be something to watch in one’s free time or as background noise.
Looking online, you can find videos on almost any topic; to me, this is an interesting way to brainstorm ideas for your own writing, as well as a way to find sources. Similarly to how you wouldn’t cite Wikipedia and would rather go and find the sources from which the authors get their information, oftentimes creators will include their sources throughout the video or in the description. This way, you can look more into primary sources for the topic and then gather your own. The intersection of the topics of these video essays also allows for you to find resources on deeper, more academic topics while hearing about how they intersect with media. There are channels dedicated to music and its use in films, and one video I’ve watched talks about how animated movies use imagery relating to immigration and police and the implications such imagery has on the films’ messages as a whole. There are also ones that just talk about a specific topic on its own, one in particular I think of being about how languages die out because of colonial powers. The structure of these videos can also be of benefit when looking at your own writing.
Video essays are what the name entails: an essay in video format. Because of this, their structure can often be analogous to the structure of an essay you’d write for class! Watching these videos, you can often intrinsically tell the kind of structure the creator has set up for their arguments. Oftentimes, the video itself will be sectioned off into different, named parts that can help give you an idea of how the creator is structuring their argument and how you can apply those same ideas to your own. Rather than using them as a one-to-one guide, you can process how ideas are presented and the benefit that presenting information in a certain order can bring.
I, like many people, enjoy listening to music or having a show on as background noise while I do homework or study. Last semester, while writing papers for my Honors Linguistics and Italian classes, I would often brainstorm my ideas and write my papers with a video essay that I’ve watched before in the background. It may not be for everyone—even I sometimes need silence when I’m really trying to work—but it’s a nice alternative if you don’t want to be stuck with music or a show.
It’s your choice what to make of essay ideas and essay format or how you keep yourself occupied while working, and you should always tailor your work to the individual assignment at hand. With that in mind, I believe that video essays are often a fun watch, whether they are political, analyze a show or movie, or even explore Internet phenomena, and they can provide insight into your own essays.
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