Saturday, 27 May 2023

What 2,000 views means to me: a look back at the lost avant garde of season one

[From my email correspondence with a viewer.]

This video just came up in an unrelated conversation: it is an utterly boring video with an utterly boring title, "Veganism 2.0".

It is just 24 minutes of me speaking into the camera (intensely) talking about the theory and practice of veganism —and, again, there's nothing entertaining about the title, the thumbnail or anything else. 2,300 people clicked on a video titled "Veganism 2.0" just to hear me give this utterly boring lecture on the ethical implications of killing bears that break into your house, etc. 

Now my point is this: the video can't be any more successful.  It can't be.

That is really the upper limit of the tiny audience anyone can hope to reach (with "serious" vegan content of this kind).

Many of the people who watched that video will be the same people who listened to even more boring lectures by Gary Francione.  And those people have a limited appetite for listening to morality lectures, as you can imagine.

The hardcore vegan activists are a very small audience in the English language, and it is an audience I know very well —and I had already exhausted the patience of that audience (with my even more puritanical message, reproaching them for being not pure enough, etc.) circa 4 or 5 years ago, when that video was made.

Again, I am not upset about this, and, on the contrary, it's something I'm entirely comfortable joking around about.

I do realize that it's implicitly hilarious that my role has been to reproach other vegans for not being vegan enough.  And that is something I've been quite willing to make comedy videos about, i.e., ridiculing myself for.

It is not the case that there's a larger audience that I'm failing to reach: the metrics of what is possible if you want to be "the next Gary Francione" are very clear (and please note that Francione had millions of dollars at his disposal, a position of institutional privilege as a law professor, and he was willing to spend more decades doing this than I ever will, etc.).

Just a few thousand people on the whole globe (speaking English) are interested in this stuff (e.g., "Who is more vegan, Peter Singer or Gary Francione?").  And I had already saturated that small market circa 4 or 5 years ago.

So, again, I am not boasting: this is a very small subculture in which everyone knows everyone else.

I was much more surprised when people in the polyglot subculture told me that everyone there knew my work, but apparently that is an even smaller subculture, that is even more tightly knit (again: everyone knows everyone else, etc.).