I’m not often seriously impressed by YouTube channels. They can be fun, but apart from Ross’s Game Dungeon, they tend not to strike me as very interesting. Certainly very few are worth writing about. Now, though, I want to draw your attention to MauLer; a British gentleman who gives incredibly thorough critiques and dissections, mostly of video games, but more recently he’s branched out into movies with a brutal evisceration of The Last Jedi.
A couple things I find impressive about his work. First and foremost, he makes it clear that he firmly believes in objective value and that it can be discovered logically, and he does a pretty solid job of proving it. That is, he doesn’t just say “this is fun” or “I like this,”
he clearly and intelligently lays out why he thinks a given element is good or bad, with specific and even quantifiable examples. For instance, in one game he notes that many people have complained about a wonky camera giving them trouble. He provides a list of all the times he can recall it causing problems, provides footage of a few especially egregious instances, and then informs us of just how much of the game this all represents and thus how bad an issue it really is (answer: annoying, but not a big deal). Thus he carefully establishes and demonstrates his position, defining his terms all along (sometimes to the point of actually throwing up the dictionary definition on screen) and inviting his opponents to prove him wrong.
He also makes a very clear distinction between objective and subjective value. This is a topic that I find very interesting and am fairly passionate about, so I really appreciate his work in this regard. Again and again, he emphasizes that some elements of quality can be established as simply a matter of fact and not just taste or opinion.
This thoroughness has the consequence that his dissections generally end up running upwards of five hours split into multiple sections, but he’s so interesting that the time seems to fly by. I’m almost glad he has so few videos so far, reducing the temptation to binge on them.
Another interesting element is his willingness to directly criticize his fellow YouTube content makers, though again he backs it up by carefully defining and establishing his criticism. People who make poor, click-bait, unfounded arguments seem to be a pet peeve of his, and when he finds an especially bad reviewer he can be brutal, though again, always supporting his argument by objective and clear arguments.
I also appreciate that he explicitly and firmly refuses to get political at all on his channel. When he brings it up, it’s in a perfectly fair and non-partisan way. When he criticizes The Last Jedi for leaning Left, he establishes that it undeniably does so, that he feels such blatant politicalized content is inappropriate for a Star Wars movie, and that in any case it makes the film less accessible to those who don’t lean Left. None of that depends for its impact on anyone’s political views: it’s a blend of objective, quantifiable facts, opinions, and suppositions so reasonable that hardly anyone would dispute them. I like this a lot: he addresses the problem of over-politicized fiction in a way that briefly demonstrates one reason why it’s a problem regardless of anyone’s specific views.
Honestly, this guy is one of the better critics I’ve found on YouTube, and I found his frank rationality and logical progression to be both refreshing and extremely interesting. He’s actually so good at rational argument when it comes to critical assessment that watching his videos makes me reconsider my own approach to argumentative content, and you can’t say much more than that.
Some money lines:
“Don’t tell me I can’t say what I’m saying: tell me why what I’m saying is wrong.” -Amnesia vs. Soma
“You took my investment and laughed. You laughed at me for caring about a story that you were telling.” – The Last Jedi
If you’re interested, I thoroughly recommend his review of The Last Jedi, which is the first such review that actually made me interested in seeing the movie, though not in the way the filmmakers would like; more like how I’m interested in seeing The Room. I’d like to view the disaster for myself and see if it can possibly be as bad it’s reputation.
A fair warning is that he’s mostly dealt with horror games so far, which will involve some rough content, and he swears a fair amount.