Spend any time on YouTube and you’ll find the recommendation algorithm directing you towards videos by all the logic pedants, debate nerds, campus conservatives, quack philosophers, conspiracy-mongers, and outright white supremacists that make up the right-wing internet. Thankfully, people like Natalie Wynn are helping to provide an alternative.
Wynn’s ContraPoints channel, created in 2016, engages with bleak subject matter (her most popular video, “Incels”, was made after a Toronto far-right extremist killed ten people in 2018) in a way that’s entertaining, expressive, and crucially, very funny. She explores philosophy and theory through visual humour: costume changes, props, drag, and other moments of DIY creative ingenuity. “What really excites me is the prospect of making people actually enjoy thinking about difficult topics, to laugh even while seriously engaging these very unpleasant subjects,” Wynn says. “And because so much of it is terribly depressing – bigotry, self-loathing, injustice, trauma – I’m driven by almost a moral imperative to extract from the darkness some kind of joy and humanity.”
Wynn approaches her subjects from a place of understanding. She gets why people are drawn to radical ideologies, but shows why these are an intellectual and moral dead-end, then offers an alternative that’s smarter, sexier, and ultimately more fun. Still, she stresses that her channel is more than a “deradicalisation resource for troubled young men”, and that she has a large audience of women and LGBTQ+ people who she hopes to cater to more in future. “More than 40 per cent of my viewers are female,” she says. “When I do meetups and events, oftentimes the majority of people who show up are LGBTQ+. So I’m looking forward to better serving that community of fans.”