Nearly 100 hours of video get uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s more than four days’ worth of cats, “Frozen” tributes, and makeup tutorials posted to the web every 60 seconds. The sheer volume of content means most clips get instantly relegated to obscurity. For every video that goes viral—every “Charlie bit my finger - again!” or “Prancercise”—there are millions more that will never be seen by anyone other than the uploader. But now there's a place for these videos to gather. Reddit’s /r/DeepIntoYouTube has become a sanctuary for the the YouTube oddities that otherwise would languish in anonymity.
The subreddit describes itself as a “place to venture into the depths of YouTube, and view some things you never thought you would.” The thousands of video entries, which run the gamut from creepy to macabre to funny to just plain weird, deliver on that promise. It’s as if Tim and Eric, David Lynch, Luis Buñuel, and Alejandro Jodorowsky got together and tried to out-bizarre one another.
Here are two examples of recent popular submissions that perfectly capture the essence of the subreddit.
“I thought the subreddit was worth creating due to the sheer fact of the insane amount of videos like these existed,” said Dustin Thompson, the 16-year-old mastermind behind /r/DeepIntoYoutube, who goes by /u/BrastaSauce. He communicated with Fusion via Reddit’s direct mail function.
Thompson says that before his subreddit existed, the only way to dive that deep into YouTube was to continue clicking on the "related videos" sidebar until you got to "oh, I'm in that part of Youtube" depths.
“There was no one spot that you could see all of these videos or share with others. That’s why I created this subreddit,” he said.
The subreddit /r/DeepIntoYouTube launched on March 25, 2013. More than a year later, it boasts nearly 60,000 subscribers, a testament to the fact that these videos do, once found, have a sizeable audience.
The success of the subreddit can also be attributed to its posting guidelines. Any video can be submitted so long as it comes from YouTube (as opposed to LiveLeak or Vimeo), is older than five months, and has fewer than 200,000 views.
“This community is to YouTube videos what an indie music community is to music. ‘Mainstream’ is the enemy,” /u/markekraus, a moderator for /r/DeepIntoYoutube, told Fusion via direct message.
“The goal for the most part is to have the oldest, least-viewed, bizarre buried YouTube gems.”
Here's one such gem, a clip called “Hommer Simpson,” which is moderator /u/HibJib’s favorite submission. “I just absolutely love the random, disjointed and occasionally misquoted Simpsons quotes,” he said. “I love the barely cohesive plot, I love the [Microsoft Paint] style drawings, I think it’s pretty funny, and it’s weird to the point where not only do I wonder why they made it, but I wonder what kind of person could even come up with it, especially after the randomly live-action fifth episode."
So just how good is the /r/DeepIntoYoutube community at surfacing these buried video treasures?
“I’m always impressed by their finds,” said Earnest Pettie, a fan of the subreddit and senior curator for YouTube Nation, the video platform’s daily show that highlights the site’s best content. “I pride myself on my ability to find and know about things, but I’m just one person and YouTube is vast. These are people who could probably easily do what I do!”
But what kind of person is attracted to this type of community? What individual would scour the web in search of a video that includes Skrillex’s music, a Taco Bell Doritos Loco taco, footage of the World Trade Center towers falling, and the album cover of Neutral Milk Hotel’s seminal In The Aeroplane Over the Sea with Nicki Minaj’s face all mixed into one confusing and unsettling 20-second clip? (For the record, that video truly does exist.). Pettie has a theory on this.
“There are things that are so weird, you can’t share them with most people you know because they won’t really appreciate it,” Pettie explained. “/r/DeepIntoYouTube is kind of a litmus test. ‘If you like the videos here, then you’re one of us,’ or vice versa, ‘If i like the stuff here, then I’m one of you.’ It’s sort of a two-way street of validation. You want to pass the test and you need to find others who have passed the test.”
There’s something Jungian about the appeal of /r/DeepIntoYouTube. Carl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychoanalysis, believed that there are parts of our personality—often negative—that we don’t like about ourselves and therefore reject, or kept in the dark. In order for humans to reach stasis, Jung thought, we must become aware of our shadow.
In a sense, /r/DeepIntoYoutube lets redditors acknowledge their own strangeness, whether it be in the form of a grown man dressed as a baby singing Meatloaf or a grown man recreating a famous scene from "I Love Lucy" with his dog.
Or it could just be that weirdness and camp offer loads of entertainment.
Fidel Martinez is an editor at Fusion.net. He's also a Texas native and a lifelong El Tri fan.